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Oswego 308 Considers STEM School with Aurora University

The school would be open to third-eighth grade students in four local school districts.

Oswego 308 Considers STEM School with Aurora University

How would you feel about your child attending a STEM school, which specializes in science, technology, engineering and mathematics?

Oswego 308 is considering joining with three other local school districts – Indian Prairie 204, West Aurora 129 and East Aurora 131 – and Aurora University to form a partnership for the John C. Dunham STEM School, which would be housed at Aurora University.

Oswego 308 Superintendent Dr. Matthew Wendt said talks regarding the STEM school have been happening since around 2007, and it has come to fruition. The school would plan to open for fall of 2014.

Some quick facts about the STEM school partnership:

  • 50 students from each school district would be admitted
  • Those students would be selected by their school districts using a rubric
  • Students admitted will be between grades third-eighth
  • Following “graduation,” students would return to their home-district high schools
  • The school will be funded by the school districts, Aurora University
  • The STEM school would also partner with local businesses and companies, including Caterpillar, Exelon, Fermilab, Argonne National Laboratory and many more STEM based groups
  • The cost of educating students will reportedly be less at the STEM school and there are no additional fees for families for attending

Oswego 308 board members raised some concerns during the presentation by Dr. Sherry Eagle, executive director of the Institute for Collaboration at Aurora University.

“99 percent of what you’re proposing is wonderful,” said board member Greg O’Neil. “But we have over 17,000 kids who need those opportunites. We’re talking about 50.”

Eagle said the program in “one fell swoop” won’t address the needs of over 17,000 students, but “you have to start somewhere.”

He commented that the school sounded similar to a charter school, which the board had denied last year.

Senator Linda Holmes, who helped push the STEM school project though, said this would not be at all like a charter school. “It will not take away the dollars that would otherwise be going to the schools.”

Board member Brent Lightfoot raised concerns on how the schools would be evaluated, as the AYP would be directed back to the home districts.

There were also concerns raised about the curriculum, what students were to do when they went back to their high schools and the feeling of the district of being “shortchanged” with regards to GSA funding.

The board will be discussing the STEM school in more detail on their Jan. 27 board meeting. They will be expected to vote on whether to proceed with being a part of the school by the end of February at the latest.

More information on the STEM school can be found here.

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