Bowman Middle School RISE Project OK’d

BAKERSVILLE – Thanks to funding from Mitchell County, Bowman Middle School will be one of four schools in the state to be part of NC State University’s Redefining Innovative Schools through Sustained STEM Experiences, or RISE, project. 

RISE provides professional development for schools looking to shift toward student-centered learning and project-based instruction. 

The project begins with an exploratory year, which includes setting a foundation for the understanding of STEM and project-based learning. The goal identifying if a school is ready to shift toward a new model of instruction and if so, set it up for implementation in the future. 

NC State University representative Michelle Benigno discussed the project in detail during the regular August meeting of the Mitchell County Board of Education.

Following Benigno’s presentation, the board was not asked to take action at the time and thus did not make a decision about funding the project.

The project costs $18,000 and is required in full by Dec. 31. Bowman is eligible to receive $3,000 in grants, leaving $15,000 that will be covered by Mitchell County. 

Bowman science teacher Veronica Pitman spoke about the project to the Mitchell County Board of Commissioners at its regular meeting Tuesday, Sept. 3, and called the commissioners “the last resort for funding” the project.

Because the school system does not have its fiscal year 2019-20 budget finalized yet as it awaits the passing of the education budget for the state of North Carolina, they have no extra money to spare at the moment, Pitman added. 

County Manager Kathy Young, who is also a member of the school board, said the school system is operating using the same budget as the previous fiscal year in the interim. 

The commissioners agreed funding the project would benefit Bowman greatly, but they also expressed their desire to see the school system show its own form of support for the project. 

Following Veronica Pitman’s presentation, commissioner Steve Pitman made a motion to fund the program using county money.

“We have to invest in the best resources in this county and that is the kids,” Steve Pitman said. 

Commissioner Matthew “Vern” Grindstaff supported the motion but amended it to ensure the check is made payable to NC State University rather than the Board of Education, ensuring it won’t become a recurring payment for the county. 

The board unanimously approved the amended motion. The county funds to support the project will come from its fund balance.

“My record shows I support public education,” Grindstaff said. “But it does go a long way for the Board of Education to show support for this program. I’d like to see something in terms of support from the school system.”

The MItchell News

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