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Aldridge resigns

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EIS superintendent leaving to take the reins in Garrett County

By Cindy DiFazio

Staff writer/photographer

Superintendent Don Aldridge has resigned after being at the helm of the Eminence Independent School District for three years.

Aldridge leaves Eminence to take up the superintendent’s position in Garrett County.

It was made official at a specially called board meeting Monday evening where Aldridge read his letter of resignation. “I was a little emotional when I wrote this,” he admitted. It read in part, “It’s with somewhat of a heavy heart that I am submitting my written notice of resignation from the Eminence Independent Board of Education effective June 30, 2009.”

Aldridge will start work in Lancaster July 1.

The move is a family decision. “I’ll be very close to my family,” he said. “My son lives about 20 minutes away and my mother about 40.” Aldridge’s family home is in Winchester.

Board chair Brenda Chism said the board was aware Aldridge was interviewing for other districts. Earlier this year, Aldridge was a finalist for the Clark County superintendent’s position.

She said Aldridge’s wife, Reese, has been spending every other week sharing the care of her 94-year old mother. “The issue was that they needed to move closer to her,” Chism said.

The board will hire an interim supervisor while performing a search for a new superintendent. “We won’t be in any hurry,” she said.

The challenge for EIS is that the district cannot afford salaries that are competitive with larger systems. Chism believes educators tend to see EIS as a stepping stone. “It’s  just the reality of it,” she said.

Aldridge’s move is to a larger system, 2,500 students, but he said the atmosphere is much like Eminence. “It’s very rural, very similar,” he said.

The school board will hold a special meeting Thursday to begin the search for a replacement. Board member Ben Coomes asked Aldridge if he would be available to meet with an interim superintendent. “I’ll assist even after June 30,” Aldridge said, “because I remember how it was in my first year.”

Thursday’s meeting could help members prepare to search for the right candidate, Chism said.

“We can clear our heads,” she said. “We have options. You have some names, I have some names. How fast do we need to work? Would we use an interim for a few months, a year?”

Aldridge said the decision to leave Henry County was difficult. “I’m happy, but sad, too,” he said.

Aldridge’s letter summed up his feelings about the school system and community.

“I cannot say enough wonderful things about the Eminence Independent School District and all the people I’ve encountered while working here. The community and the staff will always hold a special place in my heart,” he wrote.

“We enjoyed Don,” Chism said. “We will miss him.”

 

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