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Dublin’s STEM Students Can’t Wait for a Second Comprehensive High School (OPINION)

April 24, 2017

DUBLIN, CA–This past weekend, in the heart of Silicon Valley, present and future STEM enthusiasts took to the streets to March for Science. It is timely, therefore, that on Tuesday night the Dublin Unified School District Board of Trustees will make a critical decision that will impact hundreds of Dublin STEM students in the years ahead. Trustees will be reviewing the scope and budget of a new Science and Engineering Building at Dublin High School. This is a critical decision because insufficient lab science capacity at Dublin High School is already a crisis for Dublin’s STEM students.

At a time when our country is not producing sufficient STEM students to meet the demand of technology companies we should be doing everything possible to enable our students to pursue STEM careers. According to a U.S. News / Raytheon study published May 2016, “STEM jobs have increased much faster than overall employment: 28 percent since 2000 compared to 6 percent for all jobs” and “the U.S. will be dependent on foreign workers to fill future STEM jobs”.

Dublin High School Engineering and Science Building Mocks

Rapid housing growth has left parents, students and educators across Dublin impacted by an overloaded school system. One of those impacts has been insufficient lab space at Dublin High School for engineering, biomedical and science students. As a result, enrollment in the engineering and biomedical academies has been capped and hundreds of students have been turned away from the lab science classes they will need to succeed in college. My wife and I first learned of this issue over a year ago when we learned of the lab science shortage during a routine meeting with our younger daughter’s guidance counselor. We were speechless – and I’ve spoken with teachers who have had students in tears after learning there is not space for them in the science classes they need. Students, educators and parents are all on the losing end of a preventable problem.

A second comprehensive high school, which is clearly needed, is not in conflict with addressing the lab science capacity crisis at Dublin High School. The question now is not how we got here, but how are we going to solve the problem. On Tuesday night the Dublin School Board will be presented with several options for a new Dublin High School Science and Engineering Building. After attending multiple meetings over the past year I recommend the Board of Trustees approve the modified 3 story option. The option to be presented Tuesday reduces the cost from earlier proposals by introducing more flexible options for use of the third story. There is no way to add a third story after the fact and based on feedback from those closest to the problem, that capacity will be needed even with a second comprehensive high school.

The voter-approved bond measures includes language that supports STEM facilities. Dublin High School administrators and in particular its science teachers have spoken passionately about the need for more lab science capacity. We must listen to the pleas of the students, parents and educators impacted by the the science facilities crisis and act.

We can no longer turn away Dublin STEM students at a time when our country needs every STEM student we can get.

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One Comment
  1. lisa yang permalink
    April 24, 2017 11:11 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with the community. I had many friends march in Washington DC for science. Hopefully it made an impact on decision makers with respect to global warming/climate change. I, too, believe that STEM educational opportunities are valuable. Well, I believe STEAM is the way to go, but that’s just my opinion. My understanding is that about 118 student applications to BioMed and Engineering academies were turned down for the 2017 school year (this is based on slides presented by staff at the School Board meeting on February 28, 2017). What the slides did show, over a period of about 4 years, is that the interest garnered by both academies has increased incrementally year after year. That’s great news! Do we know if the plan is for each and every new classroom in the new building at DHS will be used for the BioMed and Engineering academies? I’m just trying to understand how the 2-story building would not address access needs for the 118 students who applied but were denied due to lack of classroom capacity? I do know that the classrooms are flex classrooms and can be suited for teaching any subject.

    Also, wouldn’t the new building come online around late 2020 or early 2021, the same time frame estimated by the School Board for the 2nd HS? Just to be clear, we would be waiting at least 3 years for the new building to become operation at DHS. Do you think we could successfully implement the BioMed and Engineering programs at both campuses once the new HS is online? What are your thoughts on having an entire floor (the 3rd story) dedicated to HUB? Lastly, what are your thoughts on expanding science and engineering programs/facilities at the Middle School level and do you believe the School Board presently has adequate funding and resources to make such an expansion possible? Thanks again for your post.

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