Farmington school board talks STEAM school name, lottery

When an opportunity to lead Farmington Public Schools’ only school of choice opened up 11 years ago, Dr. Dyanne Sanders jumped at the chance.

Now Highmeadow Common Campus’ long-time principal sees expanding and moving the STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics) school as another opportunity to innovate.

“This is a chance for us to do something different…something right for the new type of learner we have,” she told Board of Education members during a Tuesday study session.

Officials voted earlier this year to close Dunckel and repurpose it as a K-8 STEAM school. Sanders said parents in surveys, at community forums, and in committee discussions expressed an interest in the program as an alternative. Tech-related businesses, including Hitatchi and Bosch in Farmington Hills, and the Detroit Institute of Arts, have expressed interest in forming partnerships, she added.

STEAM is a philosophy, rather than a program or curriculum, Sanders said. Through a project-based approach, students learn to creatively solve problems and develop the kinds of skills that will become even more valuable as they enter the job market.

Officials also learned about options for enrollment in the new school. Students currently enter Highmeadow through a lottery process, with siblings of enrolled students getting preference before the lottery is held in January. A committee charged with looking at the K-8 process recommended that siblings of the class of 2030 and beyond apply for STEAM through the lottery. Those not chosen would receive priority placement only after interested students from all buildings have been placed.

Other alternatives discussed included sticking with the current system, and eliminating sibling preference after the class of 2030.

Sanders also revealed the recommended name for the new school: The Center for STEAM Studies.

Recommendations were presented as an information item; board members will finalize the building name and lottery process at a future meeting.