By Denise Dick
A proposed science, technology, engineering and mathematics school in downtown Youngstown would include an emphasis on manufacturing and entrepreneurship.
The Mahoning County Educational Service Center is applying for the STEM school designation from the Ohio Department of Education and met Monday with educators and members of industry to generate support. Austintown, Struthers, Canfield and Poland school districts have signed on as partners in the academy, which would be for ninth- and 10th-graders from all over Ohio.
Although a specific location hasn’t been identified, downtown Youngstown is being considered because of its proximity to Youngstown State University, the Oh Wow! The Roger and Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science and Technology and other businesses, said Ron Iarussi, MCESC superintendent.
The center also will seek state Straight A funds to start up the academy although the amount that will be requested hasn’t been determined.
“STEM is science, technology, engineering and mathematics but it’s also about project-based learning and engagement in the learning process,” Iarussi said.
The plan is for STEM to be embedded in the kindergarten- through sixth-grade curriculum of partnering school districts. In seventh and eighth grade, those students would be housed in separate classrooms and in ninth and 10th, attend the academy.
Initially, it would be open to 100 ninth-graders. Upon those students progressing to 10th grade, 100 new ninth-graders would begin at the school.
For 11th and 12th grades, they could return to their home school, one of the other partner districts or a career-technical school. Paths at partner schools include additive manufacturing, oil and gas, fabrication and machining.
Iarussi and Jason Braddock, instructional consultant at ESC, asked business leaders and educators to send letters to the state, supporting the application. The state’s STEM panel meets in mid-April and could notify the ESC of its application status by mid-May.
Iarussi said the effort also needs support from legislators.
Similar to when a student leaves a home district for a charter school or to go to another district through open enrollment, the STEM-ME (Manufacturing and Entrepreneurship) Academy would be financed with the per pupil state funding that follows from their home district.
“The public dollars are taken from the individual school district,” Iarussi said. “As positive as it seems and as positive as it is, there’s still a negative impact on public schools.”