Etowah County schools in sound academic, financial shape


 By Tamara Tellis/Staff Writer

The Etowah County School system has accomplished many successes over the past year.

“We are proud of our academic performance in the school system,” said Etowah County Schools Superintendent Dr. Alan Cosby. “We’ve got national board certified teachers. We are very proud of those, in all levels from kindergarten through our high school level. They do a wonderful job in the classrooms.”

The Etowah County School system has test scores that are among the highest in the state and 23 teachers who have all been Nationally Board Certified. 

On the high school level, students may take any class offered in Alabama through the ACCESS Distance Learning Program. This program allows students, teachers and administrators to instantly connect with the many useful resources available to them through the Internet. In 2011, over 700 students from all six high schools and three middle schools participated in web-based and/or interactive video conferencing courses.

“We have a record number of students in the past who have taken advanced placement exams,” said Cosby. “Our distance-learning program is going very well in our high schools, and it has allowed us to offer things that we normally don’t offer.”

Etowah County Schools also have students who are enrolled in Advanced Placement courses. Currently, there are 433 students enrolled. In 2011, twelve students received College Board Advanced Placement awards for eligible scores on several tests. 

“We offer a well-rounded curriculum but also extracurricular as well,” said Cosby. “So we are not only proud of students who participate in sports, but also students who participate in band and other fine arts. From a financial side, we have so many accomplishments.”

In addition to the academic success, the school system is working to bring technology into the classrooms. 

“We are very proud of our Promethean ActivBoards and our technology program and the things we have done in several of our schools as far as having the latest in technology,” said Cosby. “We also started an iPad initiative with some of our students in some of our special education programs.”

IPads, netbooks, tablet notebooks, flip cameras, student response groups, and Promethean ActivBoards are only some of the tools provided in many of the classrooms.

Financially, 2011 was a good year for the school system.

“We have a healthy, monthly operating balance, which is very good and shows that we are financially stable and physically responsible,” said Cosby. “We have been able to avoid several of the state budget cuts without having to have mass layoffs of teachers and personnel, so we are proud of that.”

As for 2012 goals, the school system plans to continue working on providing its students with a more digitally-active classroom. 

“We still have to keep pushing forward with some of the things that I have talked about,” said Cosby. “We still want to bring technology and technology initiative to the forefront in our school system. We want to start looking ahead at what we can do with possible technology initiative and the one to one initiative. [We want to see what] we can do to put technology in the hands of our students and our teachers in order to have 21st century classrooms in our schools, because that is where learning is going and that is where society is going, so we want to hopefully stay up with that.”

The system will also work on providing more course offerings that will further prepare students for college and potential careers. From a financial standpoint, the school system will continue to manage resources well. The situation of future state budgets is not known, but Cosby feels that they are prepared for as much as they can. 

“We want to stay financially stable while at the same time providing our students with the best education possible,” said Cosby. “Overall I am proud of our students, I’m proud of our teachers and I’m proud of our staff and all of our employees that work together to help bring as best possible education together for all of our students in Etowah County.”

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