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Florence School District 1 superintendent resigns

(FSD1 website)

Florence School District 1 (FSD1) Superintendent Dr. Randy Bridges submitted his letter of resignation effective Dec. 31, 2017, to the FSD1 Board of Trustees on Thursday evening during executive session of the board meeting.

Bridges became the superintendent of FSD1 on Jan. 5, 2015, according to a news release.

Bridges said, “Florence One has some significant items to address over the next three to five years. These include developing a new strategic plan, determining how to meet the facilities needs of the district, implementing the six through eight middle school model, and continuing a conversation about the consent order. Having a new superintendent to lead these efforts is better than starting them and bringing someone in after the processes have already begun. However, I am pleased that we were able to lay a foundation for these crucial conversations.”

Schoolboard member Alexis Pipkins, with the civil rights group Lifeline Plus, called for Bridges' resignation two weeks ago.

The group said they didn't approve of how he handled a situation wherein a former board member sent emails to another district employee referring to the African-American board members as "darkies."

They argued his leadership was ineffective.

FSD1 Board of Trustees Chairman Barry Townsend said Bridges’ resignation has been accepted by the district.

"It is with deep regret and heartfelt appreciation for his service to Florence School District One that the Board accepts Dr. Randy Bridges’ resignation as superintendent. Working alongside Dr. Bridges these past three years to build a brighter future for all our students has been the most rewarding experience of my time on the board. I am particularly proud of the numerous innovative programs that Dr. Bridges initiated in our district; but, even more so, I hope the new sense of innovation and excitement that he brought to our schools will remain a permanent part of our culture. Dr. Bridges leaves us in a much better place than he found us," said Townsend.

During Dr. Bridges’ tenure as superintendent for the past two years, over 15 new initiatives were implemented in Florence One schools, according to the news release.

It said the number of choice options have increased from four to eight, including STEM Magnet, Language Immersion, Early College, Elementary Montessori, and the district’s first full-time, year-round calendar school. Planning is currently underway for an elementary international baccalaureate program as well.

The release added that three schools implemented one-to-one initiatives over the past three years.

"Under Dr. Bridges’ leadership, Florence One continued its commitment to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). It now has five schools that have received AdvancED STEM Certification. Florence One also opened two new schools on time within the allotted budget, and a new RN Beck Child Development Center is currently under construction."

Dr. Bridges maintains that the core business of any successful educational institution is teaching and learning, and he pointed to Florence One’s test measurements results during his three year period of leadership.

Bridges said, "During the 2015-16 school year our schools saw some positive results on End-Of-Course, SAT, ACT, as well as a decrease in the Dropout Rate and an increase in the Graduation Rate. Moreover, our students set a record of receipt of scholarships awarded to graduating seniors. During the 2016-17 school year, we saw slight decreases in some of these areas, especially the second year results in Mathematics and ELA/Reading on SCREADY. Our PASS test results remained relatively flat, and have done so for a number of years. We must seek continuous improvement of student outcomes on state assessments."

Bridges went on to say that, while in FSD1, one of his main goals was to build capacity in those people who have chosen to be in leadership positions.

“I wanted the leaders of our schools and departments to explore how to use their resources of time, people, space, technology, information and money differently. An important part of being a superintendent is supporting principals and exposing them to different opportunities at the state and national levels, especially as it relates to programs they feel will improve the educational opportunities for their children. We have solid leaders in our schools, and I hope my efforts have made them better educators,” he said.

Bridges has served as superintendent of schools for the past 20 years in three different states and in education for nearly 40 years.

He's worked as teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal, associate superintendent and superintendent.

“Choosing to become an educator was easy for me. Outside of my family, the most influential people in my life were teachers and coaches.”

Bridges’ contract with Florence School District One was scheduled to end June 2020.

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