Turlock Jr. High School Approved for STEM Program

David Fransen

The Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday evening to bring a new ‘STEM’ program – Science, Technology, Engineering, Math – to Turlock Jr. High School.

The program will begin at the start of the 2013/2014 school year. Turlock Jr. High School will become the first school within the district to offer the program during a regular school day.

The goal of the STEM program is to prepare students for expanding career fields in a job marketplace that is increasingly reliant on science, technology, engineering and math knowledge.

Integration of the program will take place over a three-year period, with the first opening available for seventh grade students only. Eighth-grade students will be allowed to participate in the program in the second year. Eventually, the STEM program will serve approximately 100 students from both grades.

The program, which was first introduced at the Jan. 22 TUSD Board of Trustees meeting, has received an immense amount of support from both parents and interested students alike, according to Trustee Frank Lima.

“I’ve had a couple parents come up really excited about the program,” said Lima, who shared that he is excited for the program as well.

Turlock Jr. High Principal Dave Kline said that with the job market becoming centered on STEM principles, he wants his students to be ready.

The program has significantly higher start-up costs than ongoing costs and is expected to cost up to $70,000 from TUSD general fund reserves to get started. Ongoing costs are projected to be approximately $21,500 annually, coming from the school’s general education and categorical funds.

STEM has become a key component of education in the United States over the last decade, and many schools are adding STEM curriculum to their daily schedules.

Kline also said that the program would look to partner with California State University, Stanislaus students and faculty.

Material in the program will include robotic science, including Lego robotic competitions, as well as agricultural science, problem solving with creative solutions, technology research and experiments, and other STEM curriculum that is relevant to students’ interests.

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