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Virtual Cyber Academy magnet to start in Huntsville

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)-- By a new Alabama state law, public high schools need to create a policy detailing how they'll operate virtual schools, by the 2016-17 school year.

It's been a hot issue since the bill was still waiting on passage, as schools work to understand how they will comply.

How does this shake out for Huntsville City Schools? A new Virtual Cyber Academy.

It will be a new magnet program, only students will attend classes through Huntsville City Schools-issued laptops.

"Huntsville is at the forefront of both of these-- virtual education, and cyber security," said Stewart Thorson, Huntsville City Schools Coordinator of Magnet Programs. "Putting them together into a package that our students can take part in is huge for our area."

Students would actually be enrolled at a school in their area of the district, and can even do extracurriculars there. But their classes, and cyber security electives, will be virtual. It's a model best suited for students who need flexibility in their education. Thorson said that can mean students who are used to home schooling or work while taking classes. He said it can also be completed quicker than traditional high school if someone also needs that. But for anyone thinking this isn't rigorous, he said, "It's not something where we're just churning out graduates and awarding credits. And that's something we'll have to really talk to the parents about."

This would use ACCESS as the content provider; it's all the core classes needed for a degree, with an emphasis on cyber programs.

"Our students will take the world class cyber security curriculum that our district has piloted and created," said Thorson.

School leaders say after the board approves the policy, they can enroll up to 50 students for the upcoming school year. They could start taking applications, if all goes according to plan, sometime next month.