In a 7-0 vote in favor, the Huntington School District #3 Board of Education tonight decided to move forward with the STEM Magnet School, villagetattler.com/2012/11/19/a-stem-magnet-school-being-considered-at-jack-abrams-school-building/, and will reopen Jack Abrams Intermediate this September 2013 for grades 3, 4, and 5, with a possible addition of grade 6 the following September 2014. Jack Abrams Intermediate School was closed in the summer of 2010, villagetattler.com/2010/07/19/boe-pulls-the-trigger-on-jack-abrams-kids-will-go-to-school-elsewhere-in-september/.
Tonight’s Board of Education meeting, the first of the 2013-2014 school year with returning trustee Bill Dwyer and new trustee Bari Fehrs, was held at Jack Abrams Intermediate School. On the agenda for discussion tonight were the STEM Magnet School Timeline and Testing Resolutions. Superindendent James Polansky discussed that the district did not know whether it would receive the federal grant money in time for the opening of the STEM Magnet school on September 4, and may not know until as late as September 30. But if the money comes through, noted Polansky, it most likely could not be held over until the following September 2014.
“We applied for other grants as well so we have many resources covered by these grants, including $40,000 in Bullet Aid, to be used for anything,” said Superintendent Polansky at tonight’s meeting. Polansky estimates that the district needs $241,000 just to open the school for this September. “Would I like to open with $12 million in hand? Absolutely,” noted Polansky. “But we can move ahead. Right now, the reward is greater than the risk of possibly not getting the grant.”
Board of Education member Xavier Palacios questioned if opening this September without the grant money would compromise the program to be implemented at Jack Abrams School. “And will it hurt any other programs?” asked Palacios. To which Polansky responded, “No, other programs will not be affected. We are not going to rob Peter to pay Paul. Coaches, staff, curricula are in place already. And we are not focusing all our energies on just this school.”
All board members were in favor of reopening Jack Abrams as a STEM Magnet school this September. “We take a leap of faith,” said Palacios. “This is our moment. I am all for it.”
Polansky added that letters were prepared and could go out as early as tomorrow, letting parents know about the September opening of Jack Abrams and STEM Magnet school placements.
Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School will have a heightened focus on science, technology, engineering and math instruction and activities, as well as encompassing English, social studies and other areas of traditional education that are featured in the district’s elementary schools. Inquiry-based instructional strategies will be utilized.
As a magnet school, students will be able to participate in the STEM program regardless of their regular elementary attendance zone. The district has petitioned the State Education Department to open and operate the magnet school.
According to the district website, www.hufsd.edu, the district is looking into the possibility of creating partnerships with corporations, colleges and research labs and related organizations. Plans have been developed to renovate the school’s science laboratories to provide students with cutting edge facilities.
Another important item on the agenda of tonight’s Board of Education meeting was State Testing Resolutions. President Emily Rogan read the Testing Resolutions and all seven board members voted 7-0 in favor. “We must cut back on the over reliance on testing,” said Superintendent Polansky. “The connection to staff assessments is problematic to say the least. There’s more to education than testing and numbers. Standardized testing jeopardizes education and is adversely affecting some students.”
The board showed strong support in favor of the resolution against over reliance on state testing. Michele Kustera, PTA Co-President at Flower Hill for 2012-2013 school year, thanked the Board of Education for passing the Testing Resolutions. She was the only person to speak during the second public commentary. “Parents must stay engaged and continue to write letters,” stated Kustera in regard to State Testing issues. “There is strength in numbers. This is a great step forward for our district.”