Indiana County Technology Center markets science academy

Posted on Jan 28, 2015

The Indiana County Technology Center has launched a public information campaign to explain the mission of a new STEM academy proposed for development in tandem with the Challenger Learning Center at ICTC.

The superintendents’ advisory council at ICTC, including the leaders of the seven member districts, has prepared a PowerPoint presentation that details plans for SIFI, the STEM Institute for Future Innovators, and describes the three main career-targeted courses of study that the academy would offer.

Indiana Area School District Superintendent Dale Kirsch told the Indiana Area school board on Monday that the science, technology, engineering and mathematics-based programs — the components of STEM — would center on “pathway” programs in energy industries, applied science and engineering technology, and biomedical and health fields.

Kirsch said ICTC leaders settled on the three main programs after studying employment trends and projects for future job growth from the U.S. Departments of Labor and Defense.

The informational slide show will be presented to community groups later — “it is a marketing tool,” Kirsch said — but it first is being shown to school boards in the participating districts. It generated questions from Indiana directors about how the district’s shares of STEM academy operating expenses would be determined.

A portion of the estimated first-year budget of $430,000 would be assessed to each of the seven districts based on a three-year average of their high school enrollments. The balance of the cost would be divided among the districts, based on the actual number of students that each sends to the STEM program.

The “guesstimated” figures show Indiana would pay $105,000, a figure Kirsch said was based on Indiana’s current share of enrollment in traditional ICTC programs.

In response to board questions, Kirsch said the STEM academy facilities also would be used for evening adult-education programs, that STEM coursework could be considered for college credit and that the pathways were chosen to avoid duplication of courses now offered in the participating districts.

SIFI’s advantages would be the pooling of resources to properly equip the classrooms and labs, with advice from STEM industry executives, and to provide programs that would be cost-prohibitive for local school districts to individually offer.


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