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Ivey signs Education Budget, legislation creating Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering

Gov. Kay Ivey at her first State of the State Address in 2018. (ADAM BRASHER/THE AUBURN PLAINSMAN)

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey was in Huntsville on Monday to sign into law SB212 and HB175.

SB212 was sponsored by State Senator Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, and State Representative Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville. It creates the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering in Huntsville. Ivey also signed HB175, the state’s Education Budget. The Education Budget was sponsored by State Representative Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa, and Orr.

“The Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering will prepare some of our state’s highest-achieving students to enter the growing fields of cyber technology and engineering,” Ivey said. “Just as Huntsville has always been on the leading edge of the rocket and aerospace industries, the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering will ensure that Alabama students are at the forefront of today’s emerging technologies. I commend Senator Orr and Representative Daniels for carrying this bill through the legislative process and making this school a reality. To the members of Cyber Huntsville and the Alabama School of Cyber and Engineering Foundation, thank you for working so hard with your representatives to make sure the groundwork is laid to get this school operational by 2020.”

“I am grateful for Governor Ivey’s vision in recognizing the value of such a new institution,” Orr said. “I see the school as a real magnet for gifted students not only from all over the state, but also from across the country who may want to relocate here to be able to access such a world class, cutting-edge education in the fields of cyber and engineering. The graduates of the school will be long term contributors to this state’s growth in these emerging areas.”

“Today is an important day for Huntsville, our state and, most importantly, our young people,” Daniels said. “In addition to continuing to grow our reputation as an emerging hub in the tech and cybersecurity industry, this school will provide our students the opportunity to become the next generation of innovators by giving them a jump-start on careers in technology, engineering, and protecting our nation’s cyber-infrastructure.”

Daniels is the chairman of the House Minority Caucus.

According to the Governor’s Office, the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering “will be an independent, residential school that is established for academically-motivated and gifted Alabama students with educational opportunities and experiences in the rapidly growing fields of cyber technology and engineering. The school will also assist teachers, administrators, and superintendents across the state in replicating cyber technology and engineering studies in their own schools.”

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The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce was instrumental in coordinating efforts between the Chamber, Cyber Huntsville and the Alabama School of Cyber and Engineering Foundation.

“We are pleased that the vision for an Alabama cyber technology and engineering magnet school has been acted upon by our state leaders,” Alicia Ryan, Vice President of the Cyber Huntsville Board and President of the Alabama School of Cyber and Engineering Foundation, said. “This school will provide a wonderful opportunity for students from across Alabama to get early exposure to new STEM-based curriculum that will prepare them for exciting cyber and engineering career paths. By enabling unique educational opportunities today, we are building our workforce for the future.”

Huntsville-based Economic Developer Nicole Jones told the Alabama Political Reporter that the bills were “historic.”

“The future Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering (Senate Bill 212) demonstrates Alabama’s commitment to workforce development,” Jones said. “Economic development requires partnerships and a willingness to invest in our future. If we continue following these principles, we will continue to witness success stories in Alabama.”

“The Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering will help prepare high school students for success in competitive technological markets,” Jones added. “We have incredible brainpower in Huntsville, Alabama and a history of technological innovations developed here that have changed the world. The school will help continue the momentum recognized nationally and globally as well as foster the skills students need for future careers in the public and private sector.”

A location for the school has yet to be selected. The legislation allows for the school to open and formally begin operation during the fall semester of 2020.

Ivey also signed SB175, the Education Budget. The 2019 budget provides a historic level of funding for all aspects of the state’s education system.

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“I am proud to have worked closely with the Legislature to pass a historic Education Budget which gives a raise to our teachers and school employees, increases funding for our voluntary First-Class Pre-K Program and provides more opportunities for higher-education students across Alabama,” Ivey said. “I am committed to improving education in Alabama for everyone, regardless of where they live or the economic resources available to them. This budget is the largest investment in education in a decade and an investment in the future of our children and our state.”

The Education Trust Fund Budget was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. As a governor focused on education, Ivey prioritized expanded funding for Pre-K, the Alabama Reading Initiative and increased funding for higher-education, all of which were incorporated in the final version of the budget. The budget all includes a 2.5 percent raise for all education employees. The budget includes an incredible $6.63 billion in total appropriations.

“Alabama’s teachers and education support staff have an important task – educating our children – our children who are the key to our state’s success,” Ivey added. “It is important that we attract the best people possible to work in our education system and this pay raise will help us do that. I am proud to have advocated for a raise for education employees in my State of the State address, and I appreciate the Legislature’s following my lead in making it a reality.”

Former Gov. Robert Bentley once bluntly told a room full of economic developers that “Our schools suck.”

Ivey has made announced her intentions to improve the quality of Alabama’s education system from the earliest age through the workforce.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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