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STEM classes cause financial balancing act

Posted at 5:32 PM, Feb 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-18 19:32:59-05

If your children aren’t involved in STEM classes in school, chances are, they will be soon.  Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics courses are blowing up in popularity across the country and now school districts are left figuring out how to fund the demand.

“Is there an increased need for space in our STEM department? Yes. Is there an increased need for resources in our STEM department? Clearly and our economy is pushing it,” said Bill Petry, a STEM teacher at Rangeview High School in Aurora. 

Rangeview is one school that’s having to make tough decisions to keep up.

Rangeview’s principal Ron Fey recently announced that he would be shuttering the entire business department, clubs and classes in order to devote that funding to STEM courses.  Fey has since backed off of that stance admitting to Denver7 that he didn’t have the student’s best interest at the top of mind when making that decision.

Fey told Denver7 that current sophomore and junior students will be able to continue their business courses through graduation and the business department will be re-shaped for future students.

The threat left nearly 400 business students at the school concerned for their futures.

“STEM is a great program, I have a lot of friends in FBLA, business, STEM and ultimately they say business really helps them out even with STEM, business is a universal club that can help you in the medical field, the business field, STEM field,” said Elvis Ahn, who’s a senior at Rangeview and the Future Business Leaders of America club President.

Denver7 checked with the five biggest districts in the state to see how STEM demands were being met.

We found in Aurora, Douglas County, Jefferson County and Denver, STEM classes are funded as part of the building’s overall budget.

In Cherry Creek, a bond issue was passed in 2012 that included funding specifically for high school STEM courses and clubs.

“Our belief is that every student is a STEM student and every school needs to be a STEM school,” said Richard Charles, who’s the STEM director for Cherry Creek Schools.  “Being able to take an idea from conception all the way to market is important and so every link in that chain is important to represent.”

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