Dist. 429 board approves more STEAM teachers

By Luke Smucker
Posted Jan 18, 2019 at 9:09 AM

There will be a STEAM teacher in each building of District 429 next year.
At Thursday’s meeting of the Pontiac District 429 Board of Education, the board approved job postings for STEAM teachers at Central, Lincoln and Washington Schools. The board also approved the diesel fuel bid from Ken’s Oil in Forrest for the upcoming 2019-20 school year, similar to District 90.

During the Superintendent’s report, Brian Dukes discussed where the STEAM program is headed for 2020. A couple of years ago, when the district started its STEAM program, the goal was to get to the point where there was a STEAM department for students, which was unique to District 429.

“Our program is not only unique here in the county, but across the state,” Dukes said. “When I talk to a lot of school districts about what programs they have, the things that we are able to offer our kids and how that continues to grow is something really special.”

Dukes credited Adam Dontz and the GLCEDC with helping District 429 with the finances to initially get the program going. It wasn’t long before Dukes and the district found out that people want to give money to support the STEAM project.

“We received funding from local businesses and some of our groups here in town,” Dukes said. “If you would have asked me when we started the plan, I figured we would basically have a cart that went from building to building. Today, we have a STEAM lab in every single school.”

Dukes said one benefit that the district has had with its STEAM program, is that they haven’t had to go out and ask for additional funding. Instead, Dukes said they have used grant opportunities and things like that to continue to grow the program.

“Tonight, hopefully, we can get an approval to expand the program that we already have and allow our kids more opportunities every day for STEAM programming by having a specialized teacher in every building. A year from now, the plan is to re-evaluate the program,” Dukes said.

Before seeking approval for the three STEAM positions, Dukes gave the board a brief summary of his plans. With the recent approval from the District 429 Teacher’s Union, Dukes said his plan is to consolidate two positions and then use the remainder of the district’s new state dollars to cover the cost for the three STEAM teachers.

“This isn’t three brand-new positions, it is a consolidation. The principals are going to have to work hard on how the master schedules are going to look with having someone there every day. So, it will probably look different in every building, but at the end of the day it gives our kids that much more opportunity with STEAM and we can continue to grow our program.”

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