Photo: Local educators and officials gather to cut a ceremonial ribbon, opening the new Etowah County Board of Education central office on Broad Street on October 18. (Emma Kirkemier/Messenger)
By Emma Kirkemier, News Editor
On Tuesday, October 18, the Etowah County Board of Education held a ribbon cutting to commemorate its new central office in downtown Gadsden. Local educators and officials attended the ceremony, which was held just outside the Broad Street office.
“It’s a great day for the Etowah County Schools,” said Superintendent Dr. Alan Cosby.
Cosby thanked the Etowah County Commission for making possible the restoration of the building and the board’s relocation.
“I just want to thank the Etowah County Commission for all that they’ve done to make this happen,” he said. “It was a team effort. I’m very grateful for the relationship we’ve got with our county commission.”
Before moving downtown, the board inhabited a smaller building on West Meighan Boulevard known as the Etowah County Annex Building, which served as its center of operations for 30 years. That location was established in 1992, Cosby explained, meaning that the recent move took place almost exactly 30 years after.
“This building, it’s a board of education building, but we hope it’s a building that will help us maintain a good presence here in downtown Gadsden,” Cosby said. “Even though we’re the county school system, we’re part of Gadsden and Etowah County in a big way. This just establishes that and reinforces that.”
Cosby began his career at the board at the West Meighan location some years ago, and he is grateful to now usher in something of a new era. The commission had been looking to provide a more accommodating space for some time, he said, and even considered moving parts of the board into the county courthouse before landing on its current location.
The building on the corner of Broad Street and North 4th Street was once a Grant’s Department Store and later a bank building that, until recently, had fallen into disrepair. The county bought it in 2021 and began work on its restoration with help from Hudak Construction and architect Craig Lipscomb.
The board’s central office has three floors: a basement used for storage, a ground floor containing the human resource and accounting departments and an upstairs housing instructional staff, including administration, special education, child nutrition and technology.
According to Etowah County BOE Professional Development Coordinator Kim Reed, the building is organized strategically, with departments most likely to assist visitors at the ground level. She said the old building was “not large enough for us to have brought special education,” a department that has since been welcomed into the central office.
Reed has worked in education for her entire career, and she has served as part of central office staff for 19 years.
“I’ve never worked anywhere else, and I can’t imagine working anywhere else,” Reed said. “I am blessed to work for such a great school system.”
Between the building’s convenient location and its public accessibility, board of education members and staff aim to connect with the local parents, students and community at large.
“Our number-one mission is to serve our students, and hopefully we will continue to do that, to serve our students well in this county,” Cosby said. “This building is one more avenue to help us do that. We’re just elated to be here, and we look forward to many more years to come.”