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Magnet School Might be in Nixa's Near Future

Since last December, Nixa Public School officials have been discussing the idea of a magnet school at Thomas Elementary.  It would have a major focus on science, technology, engineering and math with a minor emphasis on the visual and performing arts.  Debby Lawson is Nixa’s assistant superintendent of elementary education…

"There are many other different  kinds, but in doing the research and with lots of conversations we feel that the future that our kids would have really suggests that the STEM education would suit them and their needs best."

She says the district was going to have to make some changes anyway, so the timing seemed right to bring this idea to the public…

"We have a couple of elementary schools that have too many students, and they're very crowded.  And then we have a couple of elementary schools who do not have enough students, so we are going to need to redistrict regardless of whether or not we do go ahead with the magnet school idea or not, and this was is a way of providing new and innovative opportunities for our students."

District officials have met with various community organizations about the magnet school concept.  A design team made up of staff, teachers, parents and other community members met last night to begin putting together some recommendations for how the magnet school would look.  That’s expected to be sent to Nixa School Superintendent Dr. Kevin Kleinsmith by the end of October.  He’ll then consider those recommendations and put together a plan, which will go before the Nixa School Board in December.  Lawson says if the board approves, they hope to have the magnet school open for the 2012-2013 school year.

The school would still have to meet standards set by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  Students would still take the MAP test and would still have to have core areas of study.  But Lawson says they would have some unique opportunities…

"We're looking at one to one computing for every student whether it be an iPad or a Kindle or a laptop, and part of our job as a design team is to decide what kind of technology would be appropriate for students per grade level."

The magnet school, she says, would offer more hands-on, project-based learning.  Kids would propose problems and then work to discover answers, maybe through lab work…

"Another part of it, too, is you can always have a great opportunity to really partner with people that have professional jobs in those areas so that we're allowing the children to see the real world connection."

Students would be admitted through a lottery system.  About 420 kids would attend the K-6 school.  If you’d like to find out more about the magnet school that’s being proposed for Nixa or if you want to voice your opinion about it, you can do so at a meeting called “Community Conversations” tonight (9/20) at 6:30 in the Faught Community Room in Nixa.  Another “Community Conversations” will be held at 6:30 pm October 4thin the same location.