How much interest is there among elementary grade level parents in the Huntington School District's STEM-magnet school initiative? To determine the answer, school officials sent a letter to about 1,500 local families, including district residents who are sending their children to St. Patrick's School.
The district has been investigating the feasibility of creating a STEM program and housing it at Jack Abrams School. The school would initially enroll several elementary grade levels. District parents would be given the choice of keeping their child at their regularly assigned school building or placing them in the STEM school, which would operate as a magnet school without the usual attendance zone boundaries.
According to Superintendent James W. Polansky, the district is looking into the possibility of creating STEM program partnerships with corporations, colleges and research labs and is also reaching out to the Long Island STEM hub.
The costs associated with the creation of a STEM school are one of the major obstacles the district would have to work its way around. The state's property tax cap law severely restricts the district's ability to raise its revenues.
Polansky informed parents in the district's recent letter that the program under consideration can best be defined as follows:
STEM: All disciplines would be taught, however, the curriculum would be centered upon science, technology, engineering and mathematics, with a focus on inquiry-based instructional strategies.
Magnet: The school would have no specific attendance zone. Huntington students would apply for enrollment and be selected via a lottery.
"At this time, we are simply attempting to determine a sense of interest within the school community," Polansky said. Parents and guardians of a student currently enrolled in grades 1-4 who might be interested in the program for their respective child are invited to express such interest by sending an e-mail to HUFSDStemMagnet@hufsd.edu. Interested parties should include their name and their child's name, school and current grade level.
To date, the survey has resulted in more than 200 parents expressing interest in the program. "The school would initially include students in grades three to five and would be targeted for opening in September 2013 or 2014," Polansky said.
A group of district executives visited Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School in Hartford, Conn., last fall to see the program there in action during a regular day of instruction.