Kettering OKs sale of 9 acres for Dayton Regional STEM School elementary expansion

School on Woodman Drive near Miami Valley Research Park would be one of first STEM schools in the state to include all grades from K-12

The Dayton Regional STEM School plans to buy more than nine acres of Kettering land at Miami Valley Research Park to build an elementary school.

The land is city-owned property “adjacent to the regional campus” of the school at 1724 Woodman Drive near the Kettering-Dayton border, according to Kettering records.

The school’s plan is to build a 60,000 square foot facility to initially house 400 kindergarten through fifth-grade students, Stephanie Adams Taylor, strategic partnerships director, told the Dayton Daily News.

Only one independent STEM school in the state — Bio-Med Science Academy near Akron — offers K-12 programming, she added. The STEM acronym represents science, technology, engineering and math.

Kettering City Council on Tuesday night approved a measure for the sale.

“It has been my dream — since we opened in 2009 — to one day have a K-12 campus; a lot of things got in the way of our projection, when that would happen, particularly COVID,” Dayton Regional STEM School Superintendent Robin Fisher told Kettering officials. “We’re excited now to be in the position to make that a possibility.”

The land includes 9.58 acres at a price of $55,000 an acre, according to the contract. It is part of a 76.7-acre parcel at 2951 College Drive, Montgomery County real estate records show.

“I think we believe that the earlier you can start students learning in a certain way — in project-based learning, in being engaged in work that matters, in authentic learning — that is going to compel them to be able to solve the problems that we need our students to solve in the future,” Fisher said.

Metro Early College Academy in Franklin County is the only other Ohio STEM school than Bio-Med and the Dayton Regional STEM school that has sixth graders attending the school.

There are several regular district/charter schools that have earned the state’s STEM designation in addition to what they regularly do, and some of those schools do serve younger grades.

The Dayton Regional STEM School has contracted with architect and design partner, SHP, as well as Shook Construction for the elementary building project, the school stated in a Tuesday release.

School officials said the design phase has started, with plans to break ground for construction this fall. New student applications will be available in January 2025, according to school officials.

In fall 2025, the school will start a phased-in admissions approach by adding kindergarten and grades 1, 2 and 4, officials said. By the following school year, STEM will expand to all grades K-5.

Fisher said the school’s current building isn’t big enough to add elementary students.

The Dayton Regional STEM School isn’t a charter school, but it’s not a traditional public school either. STEM schools have their own designation from the state. They are governed by a local board and overseen by the state.