East Knoxville middle school could become a "STEAM" school

10:48 AM, Mar 5, 2013   |    comments
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On Monday night, the Knox County Board of Education talked school security, but it also spent a significant amount of time discussing the future of Vine Magnet Middle School.

Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre told the board that he's recommending it become a "STEAM" school.  "STEAM" schools are like "STEM" schools, but with arts as an added emphasis.

The goal is to put a focus back on learning and boost creativity in order to help students earn better grades and reduce discipline problems. The school is on the district's "focus" list, which means leaders see a need to close the achievement gap there.

McIntyre's recommendation also would allow Vine Middle School students to transition to high school at either Austin East Magnet High School, which has an heavy emphasis on arts, or the "L" and "N" STEM Academy.

The board could decide it wants Vine Middle School to be a stand-alone "STEAM' school.  However, that would mean re-zoning so students who attend there, along with their families, are choosing to attend there.  McIntyre said that would mean pushing back a board vote for at least a year so they can study re-zoning.

McIntyre also said the option of Vine Middle becoming a community school is also on the table.   Either way, he is recommending changing the faculty so it includes teachers who fully embrace the significant changes the community has told school officials it wants, and that school leaders recognize are in the best interests of students. 

Under "reconstituting" the faculty, current teachers would have to re-apply for their jobs.  Some would likely be rehired, according to McIntyre, while others would be re-hired and placed at different schools.  There is the chance that some teachers would not be rehired at all.

The school board will vote on changes to the theme at Vine Middle School at its regular meeting on Wednesday.  That's set for 5 p.m. at the Andrew Johnson Building in Downtown Knoxville.

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