School Committee Chairman Dennis Forgue said while discussions in the months since STEAM Studio was proposed last summer grew heated at times, the district “found ourselves in a competitive situation, and that always raises the bar.”
Ultimately, the proposal led Andover school officials to take stock of “what’s really going on — and going on effectively” at both Andover High School and Greater Lawrence Technical School in town, Forgue said.
“What came out of it, from my perspective, in a large way is we put a large spotlight on STEM and STEAM academic programs that are occurring both at the vocational school and at Andover High School,” Forgue said. “We were able to identify and articulate more effectively all the different course work in these areas.”
Andover Education Association president Kerry Costello said the teachers union was “elated” at the state’s decision “because it reconfirms what the Andover Public Schools, the AEA, the high school community has believed — that our high school is excellent by design.”
She said with the decision behind them, the district and the teachers can now “focus on the things we need to do to keep moving forward.”
“We do have room for growth, room for movement,” she said.
The rejection by the DESE commissioner is not, however, a fatal wound for STEAM Studio.
The opportunity for the proposal’s architects to throw their hats back into the ring next year is a notable one, given that the two charter schools that won favorable recommendations from the commissioner — Argosy Collegiate Charter School in Fall River and Springfield Preparatory Charter School — were passed over last year.
“Those two, Argosy Collegiate and Springfield Preparatory, are actually good examples of those that were unsuccessful in the past (and) took the time to strengthen their applications,” Considine said.
“They listened to the feedback from the department, made their applications better and were successful in a subsequent application cycle.”