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Culture

Nixa School Board to Hold "Community Conversation" About Proposed Magnet School

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/nixa-school-board-hold-community-conversation-about-proposed-magnet-school_22458.mp3

The Nixa School Board is inviting all district residents to another “Community Conversations” meeting to discuss the ongoing plans for a proposed magnet school. This magnet school would focus heavily on science, math and technology. Tonight’s meeting will outline more information about the proposal, and update residents on plans so far. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark reports.

The magnet school proposal has been in the works for some time, according to Nixa Superintendent Dr. Stephen Kleinsmith. He says the plan came as a result of the growth of student population in the Nixa district. He sees the growth as good, but says it creates a challenge in splitting kids up between elementary schools.

“What started all this was the reoccurrence that takes place every five or six years of redoing our elementary boundary lines. We have five K-4 boundary lines, [and] we have five K-4 schools. We were going to have to redo the boundary lines because we were finding too many students in some of our schools, and not enough in others.”

Though unique, the magnet school would be public, and wouldn’t require tuition.  Students wouldn’t need to have special abilities. Instead, enrollment in the school would be based solely on whether parents felt it were the best option.

“Any parent in the entire school district that wants to have their child go to this magnet school may do so, if they are drawn to—i.e. a magnet—if they are drawn to the concept that we’re introducing for this K-6 magnet school, then they and only they can choose to have their child go to that magnet school.”

The academic focus the board wants this school to have is what’s known as STEM—that’s S-T-E-M. Dr. Kleinsmith explains.

“There’s a number of things that we’re going to put into the menu for parents to say, ‘yes, this is for my child.’ The biggest and most important drawing card is that the curriculum will be focused on STEM: science, technology, engineering and math. That will be the major focus of this magnet school.”

In tonight’s meeting, he and Debby Lawson, the assistant superintendent of elementary education, plan to present ongoing plans about this new school. They also want to hear back from the public. Already, board members have held about 20 meetings, and has modified the proposal each time based on what they hear from the community. Lawson says the meeting will explain the “why, how and what” of the project.

“Actually about two weeks ago, we did start a design team meeting, which I have a group of 90 people that are looking at some of the details of what the curriculum would look like, what the co-curricular/extra curricular activities would look like, what renovations need to be done to the facility.”

The board plans to use an existing school building to house the magnet school, and according to Kleinsmith, the project would not come with a large price tag.

For more information about the meeting, or details on the project, you can visit KSMU.org.

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.

Click here for a link to Nixa Public Schools.