McKinney ISD is looking to repurpose $2 million set aside in bond funds to invest in science, technology and art programs in the district.

The district’s board of trustees approved reallocating $2 million from the 2021 bond program on March 25. The funds are already allocated to science, technology, engineering and math—or STEM—education and will be repurposed to better meet the needs of MISD’s campuses and students, said Amber Epperson, assistant superintendent of teaching, learning and accountability.

How we got here

The bond program included a proposal to create a STEM center at McKinney Boyd High School. The center would offer virtual reality capabilities for students to experience, with grade levels visiting throughout the school year, according to the meeting’s presentation.

The center would have only been able to accommodate one visit per grade level for kindergarten through eighth grade students during a school year, Epperson said. Additional considerations for repurposing the funds are:
  • Requirements for equipment updates and daily technical support
  • Transportation costs
  • Limited Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills alignments
  • Staffing considerations
Virtual reality technology has also evolved since 2021 and has become accessible in individual classrooms, Epperson said.

“We are all aware of how quickly technology changes [and] how quickly things are developed,” trustee Amy Dankel said. “I’m glad [the district] had the foresight not to head down a path that’s already obsolete when kids could easily have access to that in their own classrooms.”

The approach

STEAM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. It incorporates visual and performing arts into the STEM framework, Epperson said.

STEAM education will be developed through an ongoing collaboration with district and campus leaders, teachers, career and technical education courses, and performing and visual arts programs, Epperson said. The programs will be designed to align with skills needed in the modern workforce and regularly occur throughout the school year, she said.

“This is a really nice connection and something that’s important for us to include in our district because we have such an incredible arts program,” she said. “The opportunity to capitalize on that [and] bring those talents, skills and hard work ... into our STEAM program is invaluable.”

Potential options for reallocating the bond funds include developing STEAM experiences for all students in the 2024-25 school year, Epperson said. Equitable resources and materials for each campus could also be purchased, she said. Potential materials include Lego coding sets, Strawbees construction systems, classroom virtual reality sets and coding robots, according to the presentation.

“We’re looking at how we can take things right now that are happening ... to guarantee that every student in McKinney ISD gets these experiences,” Epperson said.

Next steps

The district will conduct a needs assessment to ensure fiscal responsibility in the program as some campuses already have materials and tools for STEAM, Epperson said. A steering committee will also be created to guide the development of the program.

Professional learning plans will be developed to support teachers, Epperson said. The district will also create a three- to five-year plan for implementing the program across the district with the expectation of early phases starting in the 2024-25 school year.

“It looks like this could turn into an incredibly good program,” trustee Harvey Oaxaca said.