Aurora University asks Illinois legislators to support STEM Partnership School

Innovative science, technology, engineering and mathematics academy needs $5 million in additional funding

A group of Aurora University leaders and STEM experts from throughout the western suburbs today asked the state’s lawmakers and top officials for additional support for a high-tech STEM academy at the university.

The group, led by Aurora University President Rebecca L. Sherrick, met with Gov. Pat Quinn’s office, Speaker Michael Madigan, House Republican Leader Tom Cross, local lawmakers and state leaders. They urged the officials to approve an additional $5 million in capital funding, which is needed to break ground on the John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School.

Aurora University has already raised $7 million for the project, which is expected to cost $12 million. The university has donated land valued at $4 million. The proposed state investment would not come from general tax revenue, but would instead be fee-funded.

“While the state budget is tight, it would be unwise for us to stick our heads in the sand and not look at the future of science and engineering in Illinois and the United States,” Sherrick said. “To train our scientists of the future, Illinois must invest in grade school children and projects such as the STEM Partnership School.”

When fully operational, the John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School on the Aurora University campus will serve approximately 200 students in third through eighth grades from four area public school districts (Aurora East, Aurora West, Indian Prairie and Oswego).

The school will be staffed via a unique professional development model. Teachers will be drawn from the four partner districts and will earn content-based STEM master’s degrees during their residency in the school. They then will return to their home districts ready to serve as teacher leaders and a new cohort of professionals will take their places.

The school’s curriculum will be aligned to new educational standards and is being developed cooperatively by the four participating districts, the university, the corporate sector, and governmental and not-for-profit partners.