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Committee to make recommendation on the future of the Innovation Academy

September 25th, 2013 8:43 am by Rick Wagner

Committee to make recommendation on the future of the Innovation Academy

KINGSPORT — In the next month and a half or so, the future of the region’s STEM platform school may be a little clearer.

A committee is being formed to make a recommendation on the future of Innovation Academy of Northeast Tennessee, a joint science, technology, engineering and math program of the Sullivan County and Kingsport public school systems.

The IA governing board Tuesday decided to have a committee formed and make a recommendation on the future of the school, which emphasizes “hands on, minds on” learning based in the four areas of STEM and interdisciplinary learning.

Members are to include Kingsport Superintendent, Lyle Ailshie, county Director of Schools Jubal Yennie, Jack Rhoton of East Tennessee State University and head of the STEM hub helping IA, a board of education member from each system, Principal Sandy Watkins, a teacher from the school and a parent group representative.

Yennie said he hopes to have the group members identified in about 10 days and have recommended answers to the questions from them in about 45 days.

Questions include whether IA eventually will become a grades 6-12 program, as originally proposed, or stay, at least for the next year, a grades 6-8 middle school.

Other issues include whether it will remain a joint venture of the two systems or if not, which system would assume control of the operation, and whether students from other area Tennessee public school systems will be allowed in the program starting in 2014-15.

And if the school grows to ninth grade next year as originally envisioned when the two system’s applied for and received start-up funding, another question is where it will be located since its current location, the former Brookside Elementary School of Sullivan County, isn’t large enough to handle another 80 students, 40 from each school system.

“Many of these questions need to be answered as soon as possible,” said Rhoton,  executive director for the Center of Excellence in Mathematics and Science Education at ETSU and head of the hub that supports IA and disseminates best practices for STEM from IA to 15 public school systems in Northeast Tenenssee.

Read more in Thursday's print edition of the Times-News, or in the expanded electronic edition.

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