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Gainesville City Schools program picking up STEAM
Arts may join science, math curriculum
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The Gainesville school system is hoping to add a little STEAM to its curriculum.

Jamey Moore, director of curriculum and instruction, spoke Monday night to the City Board of Education about expanding its science, technology, engineering and mathematics initiative to include the arts.

“As we look at this, going forward, one of the main goals is that our continued focus on the arts can be that bridge for all of the other fields,” Moore said.

One or two classroom teachers at each school would serve as the science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, or STEAM, specialist at their respective schools.

Teachers would get paid a supplement for the extra duties.

“But it’s embedded in their work,” Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said.

In Georgia, local school systems can apply for grants to support the STEM initiatives, which aim to infuse “the integration of real-world application, project-based learning into cross-curricular standards,” according to the Georgia Department of Education’s website.

The state also is working “to better implement, sustain, and improve the capabilities of an instruction-rich STEM-focus in our local Georgia school systems,” the website states.

Gainesville officials have created a job description for its STEAM specialists, including that they “identify ... and apply for grant opportunities.”

Adding the arts component could “open us up to more grant possibilities,” Dyer said.

Specialists also must have “effective oral and written communication skills” and “experience within the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts or math.”

School board member David Syfan asked Moore whether the school system could have any issues with the state over the arts infusion.

“We don’t foresee any problems,” Moore said. “We’re continuing to look at the guidelines that they’re releasing.”

In other business, Sarah Bell, director of academic programs and standards, told the board that 81 percent of eighth-graders met or exceeded standards on the Eighth Grade Writing Assessment.

That’s up from 76 percent in 2012.

“It is important to note that every subgroup (of students) demonstrated gains on this assessment,” Bell said in a memo to the board.

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