FCPS votes to move STEAM Academy

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STEAM Academy logo

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Keeping a promise made to students, staff and families four years ago, members of the Fayette County Board of Education voted unanimously Monday night to take action on a permanent home for the STEAM Academy.

“This has been a priority for our school district for years,” said Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk. “Even before I was hired, our staff has been working diligently behind the scenes, investigating leads and visiting potential sites. I’m thrilled to tell our students, staff and families at STEAM Academy that they will be in their new facilities soon.”

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The school board took two actions Monday night:

1)      Purchased a 113,000 square-foot building on 22 acres of land at 1555 Georgetown Road for $10.6 million.

2)      Empowered the superintendent to negotiate a lease agreement with Bluegrass Community and Technical College for 50,000 square feet of its Cooper Drive property as BCTC operations are moving to its new campus on Newtown Pike.

Beginning with the 2018-19 school year, students in grades 10 through 12 will be housed in BCTC’s Cooper Drive building, which is located on the University of Kentucky’s campus in Lexington. Until the 1555 Georgetown Road building can be suitably renovated, ninth graders at STEAM Academy will remain in their current facility.

STEAM Academy, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, opened in 2013 with 148 students in the old Johnson Elementary School building on East Sixth Street in downtown Lexington. The school places an emphasis on project-based learning and student inquiry, and emphasizes dual credit opportunities and internships to give students a head start on college.

“The board’s action tonight honors the past, strengthens the present and builds the future,” Caulk said. “With this vote, the board has fulfilled the vision of the design team that began in 2010. It also enhances our existing Opportunity Middle College program at the Cooper Drive location and opens the door to future innovation such as an early college model in which students are dually enrolled in the school district and BCTC.”

Fayette County Public Schools has an existing partnership with Bluegrass Community and Technical College called Opportunity Middle College (OMC). Serving 100 juniors and seniors a year, OMC enables high school students to enroll in both college and high school courses while completing their high school diploma. The board’s action reaffirms the district’s commitment to OMC.

“BCTC is committed to expanding opportunities for students in the region at all levels of education. More than 10 years ago, we began providing college dual credits to Fayette County high school students. In 2009, we welcomed the FCPS Opportunity Middle College to BCTC,” said Bluegrass Community and Technical College President/CEO Augusta A. Julian.

Since the school opened, students at Opportunity Middle College have earned more than 4,000 college credit hours.

“Bringing the STEAM Academy students onto the Cooper Campus addresses students’ individual needs and gives them extra support to be successful,” Julian said. “We appreciate working with the FCPS administration and board and know that this kind of partnership will support students to move more quickly and successfully into college.”

STEAM Academy principal Tina Stevenson was thrilled with the board’s action Monday.

“We are very excited to have a permanent location for STEAM Academy. The location of both campuses will provide STEAM students and staff with optimal access to both Bluegrass Community and Technical College and the University of Kentucky,” she said. “We look forward to strengthening our partnerships with both institutions.”

In addition to the expansion of collaborative opportunities with BCTC, Caulk noted that the acquisition of the building at 1555 Georgetown Road will meet several identified facility needs for the district. The location will be a multi-use facility and will also house the district’s re-engagement and dropout prevention academy that is still in the planning stages.

“In the long-term, we also envision using this space as an innovation incubator where we can pilot high quality programs and schools of choice for students who live in the area,” Caulk said. “For example, I could see us developing a K-8 pre-STEAM Academy to offer an increase in choice and expanded opportunities for families in that area.

“Strategies providing underserved families with innovative learning models and increased choice, expanding partnerships with BCTC, and establishing a permanent home for STEAM are consistent with several imperatives contained in the school district’s 2017 Strategic Plan. Tonight we celebrate a formal collaborative partnership that supports families, provides an innovative solution and model of excellence that enhances educational offerings, and affords options to meet the diverse needs of students and their path to success in college, career, and life.”

 

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.