Temporary homes found for district’s science magnet school

It will also focus on math, technology, engineering

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The Vancouver school district, Clark College and Washington State University Vancouver have come together to bring Clark County one step closer to its long-planned STEM high school.

Officials on Wednesday announced they’d found temporary homes for the magnet school, including a Clark College facility on the WSUV campus.

Vancouver Public Schools will start its new magnet focusing on science, technology, engineering and math — STEM — in the fall. The yet-unnamed school will eventually teach students in grades 6-12.

For at least the first couple of years, the school will be split into two sites. High-schoolers will attend classes in the Clark College building on WSUV’s Salmon Creek campus, district spokeswoman Kris Sork said in a written statement. The Jim Parsley Community Learning Center on Falk Road, adjacent to Roosevelt Elementary, will be transformed into a STEM school for middle-schoolers.

The high school will start with freshmen and sophomores in September and add more students each year as the first batch moves up into

the higher grades. The middle school will start with sixth- and seventh-graders.

By 2014, when the first class is scheduled to graduate, about 700 kids are expected to attend Vancouver’s STEM school.

The school will move to a permanent site eventually, said Bob Knight, president of Clark College. But in the meantime, having high school students mingle with college kids at WSUV is a win-win for everyone involved, Knight said. The younger students can get comfortable with a college atmosphere, he added.

The school district will pay rent, as yet undetermined, to Clark. And Clark College hopes the ambitious kids will sign up for its courses after they graduate, he said.

The STEM students also will be able to earn college credits while working toward their high school diplomas.

Chosen by lottery

Students will be chosen by lottery from a pool of qualified applicants, Sork said. Application forms will be available on the district website on Jan. 17, pending approval by the school board. Completed applications are due Feb. 13.

The district plans to encourage applicants who usually are underrepresented in STEM classes — girls, minorities and students living in poverty. Kids don’t have to be math wizards, but must be willing to work in a challenging and collaborative classroom environment.

If the school board gives approval, Christina Iremonger, currently the principal at Columbia River High School, will take on leadership of the STEM school on July 1. Alex Otoupal, associate principal at Skyview High School, would then take over Iremonger’s job at Columbia River.

The Vancouver Virtual Learning Academy and Vancouver Home Connection will move to a district building at 301 S. Lieser Road when the STEM middle school takes over their current digs at the Parsley center.

The school board will vote on a name for the new magnet school at its Jan. 24 meeting.

The district will hold an open house for the STEM school at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 31 at the Parsley center, 2901 Falk Road. Information and applications will also be available at all middle and high schools.

Jacques Von Lunen: 360-735-4515; jacques.vonlunen@columbian.com