Last edited 12:49 p.m., July 28, 2020
The Discovery Center of Springfield Inc. is officially launching a private school.
Dubbed the Discovery School at the Center, officials say the institution will focus on science, technology, engineering and math programming. Discovery Center Executive Director Rob Blevins said 20 students initially would be accepted, with admission fees set at $200 per week per child. Blevins earlier this month told Springfield Business Journal a private school was in the works.
"I think there's a pretty big need for what we have to offer," he said this morning. "There always has been, but now the community is keenly aware of what we offer educationally."
Blevins said two current employees at the nonprofit would provide lessons for the schoolchildren. One teacher each will staff the two classes of 10 students, he said, noting "both have teaching certificates and they have more experience than a lot of people would ever hope to gain in COVID care." He said Education Director Jackie Douglas would run the school taught by Cara Trautman and Lyndsey Standage.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Discovery Center in the spring began offering child care services for health care workers at the nonprofit’s 60,000-square-foot building at 438 St. Louis St.
Blevins said Discovery School at the Center also would provide art and music lessons in addition to STEM programming. The school is working toward accreditation through the Independent Schools Association of the Central States, he said, noting the process likely would take years. Blevins added the Academy of Exploration, a magnet school in partnership with Springfield Public Schools that's housed at the Discovery Center, would continue.
The Discovery Center yesterday also announced a learning support care program for working parents of school-age children in response to SPS’ reopening plan. Parents of district students must choose to send their children to SPS classrooms for two days a week with virtual learning making up the remaining three days, or to select full-time virtual learning.
"People are going to be choosing between keeping a job and staying home with their kid," Blevins said.
The Discovery Center will provide child care and education through the learning support program for $125 per week. Blevins said capacity will be 140-160 kids, noting the waiting list already has hit 100 within 12 hours of the announcement.
In addition to its downtown building, the Discovery Center will utilize a facility near Golden Avenue and Republic Road for the learning support program. Blevins said developer Curtis Jared is donating the use of a former learning center.
A project that is now hitting its stride on the west side of Bolivar includes a retail strip and storage units.