Lakeville School Board unanimously approves Impact Academy option for 2013-14

Option will be at Orchard Lake Elementary for K-3

Impact Academy will open at Orchard Lake Elementary this fall as an option for grades K-3. (photo by Laura Adelmann)
Impact Academy will open at Orchard Lake Elementary this fall as an option for grades K-3. (photo by Laura Adelmann)

Lakeville School Board members unanimously approved establishing the Impact Academy option for K-3 at Orchard Lake Elementary this fall.

Board members also required a business plan be prepared detailing implementation of the next phases for adding the Impact Academy option for fourth grade in 2014-15 and fifth grade in 2015-16 at the school.

The decision left Learning Specialist Julene Oxton with tears in her eyes, and had some supporters cheering in the parking lot after the vote.

“I’m so excited for the kids,” Oxton said. “It means a lot of change in the future for kids that will be good. We will get them ready for the 21st Century, and I’m excited about being part of that.”

Impact Academy will be an option for students in grades K-3 next fall, and will be held in the Media Center space.

The Media Center shelves, help desk and supplies will be moved into two classrooms.

Impact Academy students will be grouped by skill level instead of age and grade, focusing on integrated studies that connect learning to real-world problems to incorporate a service learning component to the curriculum.

There is space for a maximum of 108 students in Impact Academy, and registrations are expected to be taken beginning in April.

School District Superintendent Lisa Snyder said she was “very pleased” with the board’s decision, noting that there had been so many questions and issues raised that she did not expect a unanimous vote.

Concerns included costs, potential staffing changes and the lack of communication about details of the project.

The district in recent weeks has held several public meetings to hear from constituents and staff and publicly responded to emails and questions received.

Board Member Judy Keliher gave a passionate endorsement of the program, stating it will “redefine the direction of this district.”

She said the option is innovative and could be a reason for families to move to Lakeville or stay in the district, and may draw back students who have open enrolled elsewhere.

Snyder said she was “very happy that our teachers are feeling empowered to do things differently in this very old model of education, and I’m excited for the future of our kids.”