Catherine Kolnaski Magnet School plans to revamp its magnet program to attract more students from outside the immediate neighborhood and boost student performance in science.
The school’s relatively high minority population was part of the reason Groton was forced to redistrict this year.
The where the population was 418 and the minority student population was 31 percent as of Oct. 1, 2012. A school is considered racially imbalanced if the minority population is greater than 25 percentage points above the district average.
Principal Christine Dauphinais told the school board last month the magnet school has 35 magnet students. The school was unable to attract more students from across Groton and became crowded with children from the immediate neighborhood.
After redistricting, the magnet school will have a minimum of 60 slots for magnet students, she said.
The school plans to change its magnet program from “arts, technology and health and wellness” to a program called “Steam”, which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
Dauphinais said she hopes the new focus will also improve student performance in math and science.
“We’ve put such a focus on the language arts at the expense of some of our other content,” she said.
She explained that engineering can be taught to elementary students if presented as simple principles.
For example, kindergarten students are reading the fairy tale “Three Billy Goats Gruff” and learning how bridges are constructed. The children are being taught what structures support bridges, and how to build and test bridges to determine which ones hold the most weight.
“You’ve got to bring it down to the very simple basic concepts,” Dauphinais said.
The plan is to roll out the new program over three years, she said.