TURLOCK -- Turlock Junior High students soon will get an edge in science, math and technology.
The Turlock Unified School District board of education unanimously approved a new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) program at the school, beginning in the 2013-14 school year.
The program is aimed at increasing students' competitiveness in in-demand fields and preparing them for the global marketplace.
"I think it is an outstanding program for the school," said Turlock schools Superintendent Sonny Da Marto. "We're excited ... and we're set to go. This will be phased in over a period of time, with one class going to two classes. Then hopefully three or four, depending on demand."
The school-within-a-school concept is similar to other elective pathway and magnet programs running at Turlock elementaries such as Osborn and Walnut.
The program will be rolled out in three tiers, the first opening in 2013-14 to about 30 seventh-grade students and then adding eighth-graders and creating pathways for both. The program is expected to eventually serve about 100 students per grade, selected by a lottery system.
The endeavor is expected to cost the district up to $70,000 out of one-time general fund reserves, with ongoing costs of $21,500 from the school's general education and categorical funds.
Trustees said they've gotten positive feedback about the new program and look forward to its start.
"I've had a couple parents come up really excited about the program. I am really excited as well," said board member Frank Lima. "There's a lot of positive buzz out there. Get those waiting lists ready."
Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2284. Follow her on www.twitter.com/turlocknow.