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The Discovery Center's private school will have 80 students enrolled this fall.
SBJ file
The Discovery Center's private school will have 80 students enrolled this fall.

Discovery Center moves forward without SPS magnet school

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Last edited 2:28 p.m., Aug. 12, 2022

A Springfield Public Schools' magnet program will no longer be hosted by the Discovery Center of Springfield Inc., but officials with the downtown organization say its private school is going strong.

Discovery Center Executive Director Rob Blevins said via email this morning that SPS made the decision in March. A news release was issued yesterday by the Discovery Center after the Springfield News-Leader earlier this week first reported the news of the magnet school's relocation.

The SPS magnet school, called the Academy of Exploration, is moving to The Geek Foundation’s office at 433 W. Walnut St., Blevins said. It was housed at the Discovery Center for eight years.

In the release, the Discovery Center announced its private school, dubbed Discovery School at the Center, would be expanding with a preschool in the plans. This fall, 80 students in kindergarten through eighth grade will be accepted into the school. Twenty students initially were accepted when the school launched, according to past reporting.

"The thing that parents love about the Discovery School is the 1:10 ratio, individualized learning plans for every student, knowing what their kids are learning and knowing that their kids love learning and going to school," Blevins said in the release.

The Discovery School launched in August 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on students and parents.

The Discovery School at the Center, which focuses on science, technology, engineering and math programming, last year helped the Discovery Center win a $1 million national prize recognizing its education work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As to the magnet school, Blevins said SPS paid $33,428 per school year for use of 10,000 square feet of space and amenities. The Discovery Center donated $90,000 to $120,000 of in-kind space and services, he added.

SPS Chief Communications Officer Stephen Hall provided a statement on behalf of the district.

"The new partnership offers exciting potential for further expansion of SPS Choice programs in the future. SPS is finalizing plans for a permanent AOE home within a district-owned facility and SPS will explore long-term utilization of The Geek Foundation’s space for other magnet school opportunities," the statement reads. "The new classroom space is customized for our SPS students and will provide additional space for student use."

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