Sending an eMail message to Alabama school principals with the push of a computer key, Gov. Don Siegelman officially ushered all of the state’s schools into the computer age at a news conference Aug. 29.

The governor said the final 142 schools in the state that did not have internet access are now online, thanks to a $2 million appropriation in the state education budget.

“Giving all of our schools access to the internet opens the door to knowledge for all Alabama students,” Siegelman said.

The coordinator of the state Department of Education’s technology initiative, Melinda Maddox, said getting all schools online will benefit rural schools in particular, where fewer resources are available on campus.

“We had quite a few initiatives that we could not implement until all schools were connected,” Maddox said. “This was a step that had to be taken for us to move forward.”

Maddox said the connection means all Alabama students and teachers now will have access to the state’s Virtual Library, which connects students to information available at university libraries.

Siegelman said he wants to continue to improve technology in the state’s schools by making sure they have enough computers, with the latest software.

“There are schools in rural Alabama that don’t have computer labs. There are some inner-city schools that have computer labs but don’t have up-to-date computers. There are still many Alabama teachers [who] need to be trained in the latest technology,” he said.