Announcement Expected Next Week On Launch Of STEM School By County Schools

Governor Expected To Attend Event At Chattanooga State

Friday, March 9, 2012

An announcement is expected next week on the launch of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) School by the Hamilton County Schools on the campus of Chattanooga State Community College campus.

Rick Smith, county school superintendent, told members of the Brainerd Kiwanis Club on Friday that Governor Bill Haslam is expected to attend the event. School officials have been pursuing a $1.85 million state grant for the project.

The superintendent said the innovative new school will be in 17,000 square feet of space in the Wacker Training Center.

That is located in the Olan Mills building that Chattanooga State bought in 2010.

He said the school will be in a "modular format" and the only fixed space in the entire school will be a science laboratory.

Proponents said they are seeking private funding to renovate the 17,000-square-foot facility. That cost was put at $500,000-$750,000.

The first-year operating cost was put at $2.1 million, with the county schools supplying $425,000 and Chattanooga State providing $783,5000 in cash and in-kind services. The budget also includes $410,000 from local business partners and $496,000 in grants.

The school is expected to open in August with 75 freshman students. The unorthodox school would grow to 300 students 9-12 in four years.

Officials earlier said there would initially be six teachers and that would grow to nine by the second year.

Mr. Smith said early in his term as superintendent he visited a STEM school in Ohio. He said he spoke with one student who said she considers her school day to be "24/7." He said she told him, "I am accountable for my education." 

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