In her State of the State Address on Tuesday, Gov. Kay Ivey again called on the Legislature to fund the Alabama School of Healthcare Sciences, a statewide, residential high school located in Demopolis. Ivey said the school is among her top legislative priorities for the 2024 session.
“Last year, I introduced the idea of the Alabama School of Healthcare Sciences… This school will directly expose young men and women from around Alabama, and particularly rural students, to various healthcare fields,” Ivey said. “And it gives them options. Maybe they want to graduate with a credential to immediately start working a high-wage career, or maybe they want to go to college and become a nurse or maybe even attend medical or dental school. We will now give these students an opportunity and a state-of-the-art school to attend.”
For the first time publicly, Ivey also announced the results of a feasibility study requested by the Alabama Legislature after the school was first proposed last year. Demopolis, she said, is the best location for the school.
“Already, we have received tremendous community support [from Demopolis], and the gold standard of rural healthcare is just a few steps away from the proposed site where these students will learn,” Ivey said, referring to Whitfield Regional Hospital in Demopolis. “And on top of all of this, the feasibility report commissioned by the Legislature last year has once again validated Demopolis as the ideal location for this important school – folks, let’s get this important project done.”
After the address, ASHS Foundation Chairman Rob Pearson applauded Ivey’s dedication to making the school a reality, pledging his organization’s continued work to serve the school.
“Since the day Gov. Ivey publicly announced the concept of this school – exactly a year ago – and her intention of it being built in Demopolis, we have joined with stakeholders across the state to support the proposed school,” Pearson said. “From the development of this Foundation, to working with wonderful people like Dr. Majd Zayzafoon at UAB, to securing funding of $26.4 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies, we have made it clear that we take the responsibility seriously.”
Pearson also said he was happy, though not surprised, about the results of the feasibility study.
“In the process of working with our healthcare partners and Bloomberg Philanthropies, we felt their support validated the school’s feasibility in Demopolis,” Pearson said. “To know the study commissioned by the Legislature says the same is further testament to this community’s ability to serve the entire state of Alabama.”
On Jan. 17, the ASHS Foundation joined with state and local leaders to announce that the Alabama School of Healthcare Sciences was one of 10 educational programs across the United States to receive funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies. That money, contingent upon the school being built in Demopolis, is thought to be the largest philanthropic gift ever in West Alabama
Demopolis Mayor Woody Collins thanked Ivey for her trust in the city and said Demopolis understands the gravity of being home to a statewide, residential high school.
“As we have shown over the past year, the entire city of Demopolis has embraced the proposed Alabama School of Healthcare Sciences,” Collins said. “Along with agreeing to deed the land for the school to the ASHS Foundation, we understand there will be many resources needed to give students of this school the safety and support they need. Our citizens are committed to being guardians to our state’s future healthcare workforce.”