John C. Dunham STEM School May Close After 2021-2022 School Year

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The John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School may be closing at the end of the 2021-2022 school year.

The School

The school is housed on the campus of Aurora University, which manages its operations. It serves students in third through eight grades from Indian Prairie, Batavia, East Aurora, and West Aurora school districts. The school’s Governing Board sent out a letter in January letting community members know that they paused new enrollment and were reviewing the school model.

But a recent meeting by that board has caused some parents to fear the school may soon dissolve.

“There’s a parent group on Facebook and one of the parents, whose child, their home school is in Batavia, he said that at one of the board meetings it was an issue that came up about the closure of the school. And none of the four districts would no longer be feeding into it,” said Leslie Markle, a parent at the STEM school. “And that all of the school districts had already agreed.”

Current Status of The School

Today an email from Batavia Public School District 101’s Chief Academic Officer Brad Newkirk was sent out saying the district partners would be submitting letters to cease operations at the school at the end of the 2021-2022 school year.

In an email to NCTV17, Indian Prairie School District 204’s Executive Director of Communications Janet Buglio said no decision has been made on John C. Dunham, and its board is planning to have discussions with its respective boards in April.

More Info About The STEM School

The John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School began instruction in August 2014. The school has a hands-on learning approach, with students working in groups to simulate real-world models.

The program also partners with business and non-profits to offer field trips, funding, and learning materials.

Eight students from each district are selected via a lottery system each year to be enrolled into the school that specializes in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

One of those students is 12-year-old Paul Schanz. He pleaded to District 204’s board last night not to close the school.

“Taking away the STEM school is taking away my chance to succeed,” said Schanz. “It feels like being punished for someone else not being able to keep their promise to bring the STEM model back to the district so more students like me could have access.”

Of the approximately 200 students enrolled into John C. Dunham, 50 of them are from District 204.

At the time of this recording an online petition has over 560 signatures to save the STEM school.

IPSD204 will discuss John C. Dunham at its April 12 meeting.

Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.


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