Lakeville told to pursue STEM magnet program

  • November 25, 2008 - 8:53 PM

The Lakeville school district should consider opening a STEM magnet program in one of its elementary schools next year, a task force told the school board Tuesday night. The group also advised the district to explore a program down the road for academically gifted students or those interested in learning a foreign language.

The district will form a design team to make plans for the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program, including which school would house it and how students would apply to attend.

The design team will likely make a final recommendation to the school board in February, and the program would start next fall, said district spokeswoman Linda Swanson.

The task force, composed of parents, teachers and administrators, was created to explore magnet programs as a way to help smooth a racial imbalance between Lakeville and the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage school district, which has a higher percentage of minority students. Magnet programs, which have a more specific learning focus than regular schools, are often used as integration tools because they can attract students across attendance boundaries voluntarily.

Lakeville's magnet task force looked carefully at the results of a survey done in the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage school district to find out what kinds of magnet programs might attract the most minority students, as well as a survey of its own community, Swanson said.

STEM and language immersion programs ranked highest among the top three choices of minority families from both districts, while Lakeville elementary school parents favored a STEM or gifted program.

The larger Burnsville-Eagan-Savage district is planning for several new magnets next fall, including gifted, performing arts and STEM programs.

In Lakeville, "the group felt pretty strongly that we need to focus on one program and do that well," Swanson said.

Sarah Lemagie • 952-882-9016

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