Last week, the Austin School Board accepted a nearly three million-dollar donation from a private donor to build a new applied technology center at Anderson High School. The new 14,000-square foot building will hold two computer labs dedicated to computer sciences as well as a manufacturing workshop to help in building robots for the school's nationally-recognized robotics program.
The new center will also allow the district to offer science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, courses to students in North and East Austin. Under new graduation requirements set by the state, AISD must offer courses that allow students to fulfill one of five endorsements.
They range from arts and humanities to business, public service and science and math. School Board President Vincent Torres says the center will help the district provide those courses to students.
“If we didn’t do it now, in a year, we’d find that student’s would’ve take the courses they could’ve taken that don’t require as much laboratory or shop type space. That they would be at a point where they basically can’t complete the rest of the courses required for the endorsement without a facility like this.”
The Applied Technology Center will be open to all students, regardless of where they attend high school. It’s part of a new Student Sharing model that ensures the district can provide different courses and programs to all students. Akins High School will have similar Student Sharing model for STEM students in South Austin.
Torres says the sharing model will especially benefit East Austin students.
“They will now be able to participate in some courses that aren’t currently offered and wouldn’t be able to be offered," he says.
The school board also approved a partnership with the local Boy Scouts to provide summer programming to students from East Austin. The goal is to introduce those students to STEM courses.
The private donation will pay for construction. And the district is working with local private companies to possibly donate laboratory equipment to the center. The district hopes the center will be ready to open in the fall of next school year.