STEM vs industrial arts

Zoe Greszler • Nov 23, 2018 at 4:00 AM

MONROEVILLE — Is there a need for instructors for both industrial arts and STEM? Is one curriculum better or more pertinent than the other? 

These are questions the Monroeville school board began discussing Monday. The topic will be considered at its next two school board meetings as well.

The board on Monday learned that it will have information presented on getting a Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) curriculum instructor. While board members agreed this could be a good move for the district, some were concerned about how much such an instructor would cost and whether the district could afford to hire someone and still keep its current industrial arts program and instructor.

Some wondered if both would be necessary, or if one would make the other obsolete. 

The board originally had planned to make a decision at the December meeting. However, when the issue of whether to keep the industrial arts program was raised, board members requested more time, wanting to receive all of the information before voting.

“I’d like to table it until January, until we have all the figures so we can make an informed decision,” vice president Betsy Ruggles said. “I think we need the numbers first. So we could get the numbers in December and vote on it in January.”

Ruggles asked how many students would be effected if the industrial arts program were dissolved.

“It would depend. In the industrial arts, usually we run between 90 and 110 kids that sign up for some type of the industrial arts class,” high school principal Jim Kaczor said.

Of those roughly 100 students, however, some could choose to switch to the STEM program if it were offered, so “it may or may not effect them,” Kaczor added.

“I’m not necessarily wanting to eliminate industrial arts, though,” the principal said.

The board agreed, adding that it would ideally like to keep both programs if there was a need and the budget to support it. 

After some discussion, it was decided the information and needed budgetary data will be presented at the 5 p.m. Dec. 17 meeting, and a vote on the matter will not take place until the Jan. 7 meeting.

“The plan is to vote on the STEM curriculum, and personnel would be a part of that,” superintendent Ralph Moore said, adding that STEM instructors are in high demand. “If we decide to go with it, we really should post that (job opening) in January. If you wait any longer, it would be very limited in what you can find in terms of employees because it’s something that’s a very hot thing.

“As far as if you want to keep both (the industrial arts program and bring in the STEM curriculum) or have the STEM replace it, it will be up to you guys,” Moore told the board.

The board also:

• Heard that it will need to make a decision on whether to implement mandatory drug/substance abuse testing for all extra curriculars within the next two to three board meetings. 

• Received $812.92 in donations from the football alumni association for water wheel repairs and to purchase grass seed and field goal pads, and another $600 from Monroeville Football Dads for field goal paint.

• Set the budget/organizational meeting for 6 p.m. Jan. 7, with the regular meeting to immediately follow.

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