HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A new state magnet school is going to be built in Huntsville.
Legislation establishing the school passed the House and Senate and it's now on Governor Ivey's desk for her signature.
Alicia Ryan is the CEO of LSINC, a successful engineering and product development company in Huntsville. She says she's had to look for employees in other states to fill some positions but she wants to hire locally. Now, she says Alabama will be able to produce more top talent with the creation of a new cyber technology and engineering school.
She thanked Alabama legislators for passing a bill establishing the school, the third state magnet school. The Alabama School of Cyber & Engineering Foundation will be handling donations and local contributions for the project and Ryan is the president of the foundation.
"It will really bring into play all of the resources that we have- our industry, our community, UAH is our partner with the curriculum, the Space & Rocket Center with the U.S. Cyber Camp. It's all going to be pulled together," Ryan said. "This is going to integrate two different lines of thoughts and two different disciplines- cyber within the system development life cycle of building something."
It will be a school for gifted children from 7th-12th grade and it will be located at Research Park It will have 300 students with a special curriculum. There will be 150 beds for children who can be boarded from across state of Alabama.
"We have a lot of kids out there today that are truly gifted in cyber, engineering, math and science and we don't even know. They're the kids that stay in the basement and love Xbox," Ryan explained. "It's important that we're able to identify these gifted children from the entire state of Alabama and bring them to a place where they can get this type of education."
Senator Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, sponsored the legislation.
"The objective is to pull children from all across the state, much like the School of Fine Arts and the School of Math and Science in Mobile. It's the logical choice due to the cyber and engineering component in Huntsville with more engineers per capita than anywhere else in the country," Orr said.
Alicia Ryan thanked Senator Orr, Governor Kay Ivey, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, the chamber, local school systems, and other legislators for their support.
She says it's important to develop a young workforce skilled at creating new technology with strong cyber networks that can't be compromised.
"From a national security standpoint, it's extremely important that we focus on that. Of course, being in Huntsville, it's important because we're right next to Redstone Arsenal and we have a great deal of federal and state support," she stated. "This school offers us an opportunity to bring gifted children in but through the partnership with UAH and other colleges, we also get to teach our teachers and create curriculum that goes across the state of Alabama into all of the other local schools."
In 2020, it will start 10 & 11 grade with 50 students in each class. In the second year, 9th grade will be added. And it will continue to expand until it goes from 7-12th grade.
"We need the support from our community if we're going pull to this together and get it open in 2020. We need industry to stand up and take a stand to help us create a technology-driven high school," Ryan stressed. "It's exciting to me to see children who didn't even know they had these abilities and now they have the access to the right people to help teach it to them."
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