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Introduction to RCS
Rutherford County Schools

382 West Main Street
Forest City, North Carolina 28043
Telephone: (828) 288-2200
Fax: (828) 288-2490

Rutherford County is located in the foothills region of western North Carolina and includes the towns of Bostic, Ellenboro, Forest City, Lake Lure, Ruth, Rutherfordton, and Spindale, along with numerous communities spanning almost 600 square miles. In 2010, the U. S. Census Bureau calculated the county's population at 67,810 residents and estimated a population of 66,390 residents in July, 2015.

Rutherford County Schools provides comprehensive educational programs and services to approximately 8,500 students enrolled in grades pre-kindergarten through twelve at nineteen school sites located throughout the county.   The school district is organized to include one pre-kindergarten program center, ten elementary schools, three middle schools, three comprehensive high schools, one alternative learning center for middle and high school students, and one early college high school located on the campus of Isothermal Community College. A locally elected, seven-member board of education governs the school district.

The board of education is deeply committed to sound stewardship of our community’s education resources, to providing excellent academic and extracurricular experiences to our community’s children, and to ensuring that our graduates are prepared not only to succeed, but also to excel, as graduates and adult members of our community.

In 2014, the board of education adopted an ambitious five-year strategic plan for Rutherford County Schools focused on preparing all students for college and career success.  Partnership with parents and community members is a central component of Rutherford County Schools' vision. Working closely with those partners, the school district provides rigorous instruction in North Carolina's established content standards and offers a comprehensive array of co- and extra-curricular activities to support each student's academic, intellectual, social, physical, and emotional development in a safe, nurturing environment focused on success.

A technology-forward school district, Rutherford County Schools launched its Going GLOBAL initiative in 2011 to ensure that all students have access to 21st century technologies in order to overcome barriers to school success and to expand educational opportunities for all students in an increasingly interconnected environment. Today, all students from kindergarten through grade twelve have 1:1 access to a technology device. Students in kindergarten through grade four have 1:1 access to an iPad tablet, while students in grades five through twelve have 1:1 access to a MacBook Air laptop computer. Middle and high school students may take those devices home for use beyond the scheduled school day.  

During the 2015-16 school year, Rutherford County Schools was once again recognized as an Apple Distinguished Program. The program recognizes educational organizations across the United States that integrate Apple technology and demonstrate educational best practices in their programs and activities, including visionary leadership, innovative learning and teaching, relevant and timely professional development, compelling evidence of success, and a flexible learning environment. Rutherford County Schools was first selected as an Apple Distinguished Program in 2012 and again in 2013. Last year, the district was recognized for another two-year period ending in 2017. In conjunction with its recognition as an Apple Distinguished Program, Rutherford County Schools will host visits from educational leaders and teams from across the state and nation, showcasing its use of 21st century tools to enhance learning and improve student outcomes.

In recent years, Rutherford County Schools has outpaced the state and region in student achievement gains. The local graduation rate is at an all-time high, the local dropout rate is at an all-time low, and student performance is sharply improving in multiple academic areas.

In 2015, the board of education completed a comprehensive study of short-, intermediate-, and long-range school facility needs to inform critical planning decisions facing our community.

Leveraging community eligibility under federal guidelines, the board of education created universal access to free breakfast and lunch so that all Rutherford County Schools students have the opportunity to enjoy healthy, nutritious meals each school day.

Rutherford County Schools aggressively pursues competitive grants to enhance core services. In recent years, the district has received two 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants supporting innovative elementary school programming, an Education and Workforce Innovation Fund grant supporting college and career readiness in secondary schools, and numerous smaller grants to support special projects, programs, and activities for children. Additionally, the district partners with Appalachian State University in the grant-funded GEAR UP initiative aimed at further expanding college knowledge and access among students.

Through demonstrated achievements like these, Rutherford County Schools continues to distinguish itself as a forward-thinking, progressive school district committed to ensuring that all students graduate prepared for college and career success. Through June 30, 2019, the school district's improvement efforts remain tightly focused on achieving the performance goals expressed in its five-year strategic plan through high quality teaching and learning, supportive services for students, and sound stewardship and utilization of the community resources entrusted to its use in service to students.

The board of education supports and promotes excellence among all schools and educational programs. Rutherford County Schools is home to a National Blue Ribbon School, multiple Title I Reward Schools, and other schools recognized for continued excellence by national publications like Newsweek and U. S. News & World Report