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School Board Purchases Permanent Home For STEAM Academy

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18)-- 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.”

The school board purchased the 1555 Georgetown Road property, previously known as Imani Baptist Church, for $10.6 million.

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. Until the new 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.

Fayette County Public Schools has an existing partnership with BCTC 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.

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

In addition to the expansion of collaborative opportunities with BCTC, Caulk noted that the acquisition of the new building 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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