The Global Impact STEM Academy governing board on Monday afternoon authorized an exploration into options other than the former South High School building as a permanent site for the school.
Since the inception of the STEM academy, the old South High site was the only site considered as the final destination for the school.
“It’s a prudent path for the board because nothing is a done deal,” said Board Chairman Ed Leventhal, who said the school needs a permanent site for the third year of classes in the 2015-16 school year). “So we’ll proceed down two different paths: to continue to look at fundraising for the South site and to look and see if there are other viable options.”
David Estrop, the superintendent of Springfield City Schools, which still owns the old South High site, agreed — to a point.
“From the perspective of making a stronger case for South, I don’t mind at all,” said Estrop, also one of the board members. “South carries with it a lot of strengths.”
That includes the support of State Sen. Chris Widener, who represents Clark, Madison and Greene counties, and backing from donors who gave a sizeable portion of the money to the STEM academy with the stipulation that it be used on renovating the old South High.
The STEM academy, in the middle of its first year of operation, is inside Shull Hall at Clark State Community College’s Leffel Lane campus. Last month, it was announced that the academy would remain at Clark State for its 2014-15 school year.
“We bought ourselves some time by having year two at Shull,” said Leventhal. “But we don’t want to be back looking at that (option) in six months.”
The STEM academy, which is not part of Springfield City Schools, emphasizes Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. It opened in August of 2013 and offers hands-on training in bioscience and agricultural fields for college credit. Jobs in the bioscience field are expected to be in high demand and have seen rapid growth in Ohio in recent years.
The biggest obstacle remains fundraising. Matt Grushon, the director of operations for the Wright State Research Institute, was involved in fundraising for the Dayton Regional STEM School’s permanent site. He explained Monday how the Dayton leaders went about raising funds.
The renovations have been estimated to cost between $3.5 and $4.5 million for the 60,000 to 70,000 square feet expected to be needed to house Global Impact. The school has approximately $1 million in committed donations for the possible renovation project at South, which closed in 2008 with the opening of Springfield High.
The academy has 46 enrolled students through its first semester. The goal for next year is 175 students, which Founding Director Josh Jennings hopes will come in the form of 25 incoming sophomores and 100 incoming freshmen.
“I’m comfortable that we’ll reach that goal or come close,” said Jennings, who added that about 30 applications for 2014-15 have been received to date. The initial application deadline is March 17.
All eight public high schools in Clark County and three in Champaign County — including Graham, Triad and Mechanicsburg — have at least one freshman enrolled at the STEM academy. Figures show 22 of the 46 students come from Springfield High School.
Students can apply at globalimpactacademy.org. For more information, call 937-328-6600.
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