A panel of leaders from the Forest Exploration Center and its University Lab School made a presentation to the Wauwatosa School Board on Monday.
"Our primary education model will be a blend of teacher- and student-led, project-based learning, again, emphasizing STEM," said Mary Staten, a curriculum specialist working with the University Lab School.
The school district and the FEC school have met before. About a year and a half ago, the center sought to set up a district charter school, and even won a planning grant from the School Board.
When the University Lab School set its sights on the Eschweiler buildings as a home, they parted ways, and the School Board, fearing the school would siphon off district students, passed a formal resolution against its effort to become a charter school of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
The school's executive director, Danny Goldberg, brought the School Board up to date. It's application to be a charter school of UWM has been completed and the school is awaiting a decision, he said. Also, the school started programming with a weeklong summer class that attracted 28 students and modeled the use of a forest as a learning and problem-solving environment.
"I'm as excited about this concept as I was a year and a half ago," said School Board member Mary Jo Randall.
"Your summer program is kind of proof that the concept can and will work."
But she was not comfortable with how the separation transpired.
"What I don't know is how we got from there, to here, today, with UWM as the chartering authorizer, and I don't know what a partnership looks like."
Goldberg said that there was "no financial burden having to do with the facility (the Eschweiler buildings). It's actually just a less-expensive strategy with additional value built onto it."
Ertl said there had been discussions that had led the parties to part, but, "I think the exciting part of this is really trying to create something that hasn't been done before."
Both Ertl and Goldberg said they didn't know how their partnership would work or look; they have to keep talking.
"At some point, hopefully, we'll be able to bring something back to the School Board for approval," Ertl said.
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