The Clear Lake School Board joined its Mason City counterparts Monday and authorized Superintendent Anita Micich to send in an application of intent to establish an Iowa Innovation Zone School.
Kelli Mason, Technology Integration coach for the district, presented information about New Tech Network, a type of academy school which uses “project-based learning” for high school students. Mason recently visited four New Tech schools located in Indiana and Illinois in mid-September. Clear Lake and Mason City are thought to be the first districts in the state considering establishing a New Tech Network School.
Currently, New Tech Network supports 62 public high schools in 14 states.
Mason explained New Tech Network schools have a deep use of technology. All classrooms have a one-to-one computer ratio. Students are largely self and team-driven. Students collaborate on projects that require critical thinking and presentation skills. If the school comes to fruition here, its first class would likely be a mix of up to 100 eighth and ninth graders. Over the next four years, the number of students (grades nine-12) would grow to no more than 400.
Students interested in attending the New Tech Network school would apply for admittance. In the event demand exceeds space, a lottery system would be used.
Micich and Mason said the school would be open to all students and must be a reflection of its community. For example, New Tech Network students would range from those receiving special education services to talented and gifted programming.
Micich noted that while the school is available to all, not all students will like or thrive in its type of learning environment.
“It (New Tech Network) fills a gap in learning that I’ve seen for years,” said Micich. “But this model is not for everybody. It’s a very different way of learning.”
Start-up costs are estimated at $400,000 to $450,000 over four years, however state funding for regional academies would help to offset some costs. The Clear Lake and Mason City districts would also negotiate a shared funding agreement and students attending the school would be “weighted,” meaning the state pays more per pupil because of the shared consortium.
The Iowa Legislature established an “innovation zone school” -Read More Via e-Edtion