California District Eyes Addition of Robotics Academy

Lodi Unified School District in California is planning to launch a robotics academy in time for the 2019-2020 school year. In a recent board meeting, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Jeff Palmquist presented a possible budget and timeline for launching the school, which would draw both middle and high school students and involve a local community college.

Valley Robotics Academy, as it's being called, would emphasize STEM and career and technical education opportunities, with an infusion of robotics, drones and automation integrated into the curriculum and instruction. The cost for year one: $1.3 million with expected revenues of $552,000.

The first year would accommodate 60 seventh- and eighth-grade students and 32 ninth-grade students. In every subsequent year, the school would add a higher grade and eventually double enrollment for each.

The middle schoolers would attend the academy from 8 to 2:30 each day. High schoolers would take classes at the academy each day from 8 to 1 and from 2 to 4 on three days during the week. On the other two days, the older students would also participate in robotics and automation courses at San Joaquin Delta College, classes that would be dedicated to them. The college is also considering bringing its courses onto the new school's campus and fulfilling them there.

Whatever the final format, the plan is for those students to leave high school with diplomas, CTE pathways and shadow/internship/externship experiences under their belts. The idea is to set students up to earn some combination of industry certificate, associate's degree in a subject such as automation and mechatronics and/or to transfer to a four-year university to finish out a bachelor's degree in industrial automation.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.