Inspiration Station STEM Lab
hosts open house
NORTHWESTERN LOOKS TO EXPAND
By JONATHAN SCHOLLES Daily Record Staff Writer
NORTHWESTERN DISTRICT -- Administrators met with state Rep. Ron Amstutz recently in hopes of showing off its prized STEM program as it pursues funding to expand.
The district is in need of lab space for its career pathway programs.
The Ohio School Facilities Commission offers funding for regional STEM schools.
Northwestern, however, is not a regional STEM school, causing issues as the district seeks funding to expand and offer new, cutting-edge equipment for students. Hoping to amend legislation, Superintendent Jeffrey Layton welcomed Amstutz Jan. 30 to discuss expanding from six regional STEM schools to include all 25 designated facilities.
"The nearest STEM school is in Akron; that doesn't help kids in Wayne County," said Layton, adding state funding can match up to 50 percent of costs.
Layton said the school has tossed around ideas of retrofitting a classroom to building two labs and classroom space, as well as adding a biodigester for its clean energy program to assemble.
First, though, the Ohio code defining a STEM school and how it's funded would have to be amended.
Work still needs to be done, Amstutz said, before any change can happen.
"We have to assess things and actually try to run the play and see if we can get a touchdown," the state representative said. "But we just don't know yet."
Arriving shortly before 9 a.m., Amstutz, R-Wooster, toured the facility and met with administration and faculty, discussing STEM facilities funding, project-based learning, career pathways and funding, career pathways and career education, business-school partnerships, adult education needs, technology, Third-Grade Guarantee and blended learning amongst other topics.
"They're not only into STEM, they're deep in the STEM world," Amstutz said. "I got to see their project-based learning and how they're integrating all kinds of options for students. It's real-world based and there is lots of fun and lots of learning going on."
A diverse district, Layton wanted to stress the importance of public schools to its community as opposed to its charter school counterpart.
"Public schools are the center of our communities and we do so much for the kids," Layton said. "But so much funding is being pulled away from public schools to fund for-profit charter schools. And they're making a profit off public schools. They don't have the athletic programs or fine arts. They just focus on core curriculum.
"So they don't need as much money because they don't need as much, providing basic programs," he added. "If you're providing all these other services, and nursing and social services as a public school ... it does cost more money. Competition is a good thing, but the playing field needs to be leveled."
Staff Writer Jonathan Scholles can be reached at 330-287-1632 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He is @jonschollesTDR on Twitter.
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