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School board takes a pass on STEM School : Editorials : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
School board takes a pass on STEM School

As we reported last week, the Oswego School District will not join three other area school districts (Indian Prairie, West Aurora and East Aurora) as a partner in the new John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School now under construction on the campus of Aurora University.

STEM (an acronym for science, technology engineering and math) programs are an emerging trend in education across the country and the STEM Partnership School, which will open this August, would be one of the first of its kind in the nation. As planned, the school's curriculum will focus on manufacturing, engineering and design principals for its 200 third through eighth grade students.

But in voting 6-0 to reject a partnership agreement school board members cited a host of reasons why they believe the school district should not participate in the STEM School. Those reasons ranged from a desire to have the district's administrators and teachers focus their energies on improving the science, technology, engineering and math instruction already going on in district schools to doubts about how the two teachers the district would have assigned to the STEM School would pass on their knowledge to the district's other teachers and students.

None of the board's current members were on the board when the idea of the district participating in the STEM School was first raised several years ago. In addition, the current board has, over the past two years, hired a new superintendent and put a completely new administrative team in place that were not involved in the STEM School initiative at its earliest stage.

In reading the concerns expressed by board members it is obvious they had many unanswered questions about the STEM School going into last week's meeting.

From a financial standpoint, the STEM School promised to educate the 50 district students at a per pupil cost that was less than what the district pays to educate the same students in local schools.

We're disappointed the board chose not to participate in the STEM School. Though we also have questions about the school and STEM education in general, we believe it would have been worthwhile for the district to participate in it for a few years and then have the board and administrators evaluate its effectiveness for the district's students and teachers. We note the agreement the board rejected contained a provision that would have allowed the district to withdraw its participation from the school if the district provided the school's governing board a minimum of a one-year prior notice.

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