District Innovates For the Future

St. John's property, which currently houses SCOPE, will be the location of future elementary school.

Photo by Photo by: Sabina Schaaf

St. John's property, which currently houses SCOPE, will be the location of future elementary school.

Allen Ganic, Reporter

By Allen Ganic, Reporter

District Innovates For the Future

    The district has an interesting plan to open up an innovative based elementary school in the near future.

    In two years, students from grades Kindergarten to fourth will have the opportunity to attend an elementary school with an uncommon curriculum. This curriculum will be based on real world problems that students will learn and be able to solve through critical thinking skills, technology, and instruction methods. Admission requirements will not be necessary. If more students apply than there are seats available, the district will have a lottery in place.

    Superintendent Chris Gaines received initial approval from the school board to move forward with the plan last month. The school will be located inside the former St. John Elementary School that is now the location of SCOPE at 3701 Will Avenue on Lemay Ferry.

    Across the region, few school districts have opened up similar projects to the one Gaines has proposed. The Webster School District opened up a computer school in the 1980’s, which was an optional school for elementary students that gave them opportunities to learn about technology use.

    Although these schools have different innovative projects, the elementary school planned by Gaines will stand on its own.  

    “We would be the first in the St. Louis region,” said Gaines.  

    While it would be the first in our region, Gaines got the idea from a school in Missouri that he wants to resemble.

    “We’re looking to model the school after EPiC elementary in Liberty, Missouri,” said Gaines. “They were the first to do this in Missouri.”

    EPiC elementary received national attention when it opened in 2014. After the first year, over 1,000 students applied for the limited 300 seats that were available.

    When it comes to funding the project, Gaines addressed that it will come from shifting resources around the district and that additional funds will also be necessary. Some of those additional funds will be needed to prepare the building for the learning experience.

    “We will need to purchase and enhance the wireless capability within the building along with purchasing furniture, devices, and a playground for the school,” said Gaines.  

    The plan for now is to open the innovative elementary school first. After the plan is complete, future plans for a middle school and high school are also being considered.

    “We are working on the elementary first, but the middle schools and high schools should follow pretty quickly after,” stated Gaines. “If kids grow up with a certain type of learning, we are going to need something for middle and high schools so they can continue that path.”

    For those who prefer traditional education, that will not disappear as the innovative schools will solely be based on choice. Having the option for two choices of education can be beneficial for students and parents as they can decide what will be best for them and their future.