Realizing the need for a school in Russell, Miss Alice Carner opened a private school in 1870. This school was first taught in a recreation house which stood in Carner's Grove. In 1874, a school building was erected near the junction of Kenwood Drive and Route 23.
In July of 1891, voters of Russell laid the foundation work for the present school system. A Board of Education was elected: Elias Hanshaw, John Callihan, J.D. Foster, Thornton Barrette, L.P. Harrison, and A.W. Carner. The first real school building was opened in January, 1892, with two female teachers employed. A high school was organized in 1913, with 13 students taking high school courses. The Russell School System is the oldest school system in Greenup County. In March, 1915, Upper Pond Run was placed in the Russell District by petition from residents.
The still rapid progress of the Russell schools can be marked by the election of Superintendent B.F. Kidwell...often called "The Professor." He served as superintendent and high school teacher.
In 1921, a bond issue was voted and the high school was separated from the elementary school. Also in 1921, along with Bellefonte, the Chinnville (Raceland) Graded School District petitioned to be added to the Russell School District and was accepted.
In 1922, a two-room building was erected in West Russell to serve as an elementary school. On February 27, 1922, a petition of patrons and residents of Bellefonte Sub-District was presented requesting they be transferred from the county to the Russell Graded and High School Districts. The district was accepted.
In 1925, a modern school building was constructed at Bellefonte and six rooms were added to the West Russell School.
A bond issue was carried in April, 1922, for the construction of a new high school building. In 1929, after much controversy and extended debates the Advance Grade School District merged with Russell.
The schools were reorganized in 1940 and four six-grade elementary schools were in operation at Bellefonte, Russell, West Russell, and Flatwoods.
Ben Coffman became the school's second superintendent in 1941, after the resignation of B.F. Kidwell. Henry R. Evans became the third superintendent in 1953; the growth of the school system was phenomenal during his 17 year tenure.
In rapid succession Bellefonte Elementary and Advance Schools were enlarged and remodeled; the present McDowell School was built in 1956, enlarged in 1958, and 1960; the new Russell High School was built in 1962, and the nearby Russell Middle School in 1969.
The fourth superintendent was Logan Perry, who began his duties following the retirement of Evans in 1970. Perry's main project was the construction of a vocational education building on land adjacent to the high school building. Fred Madden became the fifth superintendent in 1987. From 1993 until 2005, Ronnie Back served as the sixth superintendent. One of his projects was the new primary school, which consolidated four elementary schools into Russell Primary School (P1 - P4) and Russell-McDowell Intermediate School (grades 4 - 5). Dr. Susan Compton has served as Russell's Superintendent from 2005-2013. In 2013, Mr. M. Sean Horne began his superintendentship.