Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


February 20, 2014

STEAM Studio plans stymied

State rejects proposed charter high school


It also said the staffing plan in the application “did not align with the proposed budget, or the application narrative.”

Similarly noted was the “performance, promotion and graduation standards” for STEAM Studio, which the review said was all too familiar given the area the school targeted.

“The promotion and graduation standards are closely aligned to the present Andover High School policies, and do not appear reflective of the unique nature of the proposed school, and its STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art+Design, and Mathematics) communities,” the review reads.

That argument is one school officials and other opponents repeatedly made over the last several months in questioning the need for STEAM Studio.

Local opposition to the proposal in the form of public testimony and written comment was also among the weaknesses identified. Opposing testimony came from Andover parents, teachers and administrators as well as school officials in neighboring North Andover and Wilmington, among others, the report said.

STEAM Studio was built around a model of STEM education — with a focus on science, technology, engineering and math, plus an added concentration on digital arts and design. The school, which would have been phased in over four years, was to cater to students in grades nine through 12.

The majority of the eventual 450 pupils enrolled were expected to come from Andover.

The proposal encountered considerable criticism from the outset, including from the Andover School Committee, which argued the town was already providing the type of education being envisioned at STEAM and that the proposed charter school would result in serious financial implications for the local school district. The committee voted unanimously to oppose the plan, with Birnbach abstaining.

Yet, while some questioned the need for a charter high school in Andover, others argued STEAM Studio would fill a gap in STEM education that they say currently exists in town.

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