John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School Will Close

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The John C Dunham STEM Partnership School at Aurora University will close after the 2021-2022 school year.

This afternoon its board, which is comprised of superintendents from partner schools Indian Prairie School District 204, West Aurora 129, East Aurora 131, Batavia 101, and Aurora University’s President Rebecca Sherrick, voted 4-1 to dissolve the school.

D204 Superintendent Dr. Adrian Talley followed the will of his board and was the lone vote not in favor of closing the school.

Reason For The Votes

Sherrick said over the years the school has become harder to run.

“The school opened in 2014,” said Sherrick. “It was followed immediately by a really difficult protracted political and budget battle in Springfield.”

She cited Illinois not having a budget for two years, the previous presidency, and the COVID-19 pandemic as reasons for the increased difficulty in running the school.

Partnership Still Intact

Though the STEM school will close, the partnership between each school will still continue as each district is looking to implement more STEM offerings.

“What that looks like specifically, we have not fleshed that out,” said East Aurora Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Norrell. “With us taking an additional year we will be able to plan for that, but I know that it will be heavily steeped in professional development and learning experiences for our faculty and staff.”

D204 said they would use the roughly $550,000 they used to help fund the John C Dunham school, to hire a STEM coordinator and expand STEM programs across elementary schools.

History of The STEM Partnership School

The John C Dunham STEM Partnership School opened in 2014, and has about 200 students from the four school districts in grades 3-8, who were selected via a lottery system.

Going Forward

Students and parents who spoke at the meeting hoped board members would vote to keep the school open, but left with a feeling of disappointment.

“[I feel] kind of annoyed because they say want to re-create STEM and it’s going to be very hard to re-create that in their own district because they don’t have anything to look at,” said fourth grader Aidan Neil.

Some of the STEM parents have hired a lawyer to explore any legal action they may be able to take.

For now, parents said they will make sure each respective partner school fulfills its promise in still offering STEM to students.

Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.


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