Charter school's mission to get struggling students into Green Bay tech boom

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Green Bay has officially landed on the tech industry map with Microsoft and Foxconn investing in the city. The state is also investing in a new school to help get students ready for those high tech jobs.

On Wednesday, the Department of Public Instruction awarded a $900,000 grant to the Green Bay Area Public School District to create a new charter school called NEW School of Innovation.

The district says the charter school is needed to help students who struggle in a traditional classroom setting.

"A large portion of our students are not being as successful as they could in in a traditional model," said Jason Johnson, administrator, NEW School of Innovation.

Johnson is the lead teacher for the Academy, a pilot program serving at-risk kids within Green Bay schools.

Eighty-three percent of the Academy's students--once considered likely dropouts--have graduated and gone to college or tech school.

That's paved the way to expand into the School of Innovation.

Johnson will run it.

"This is something that doesn't exist. This is something where we're actually targeting the students who school doesn't work for, so we're going to make sure students have the opportunity for all those wonderful programs that NWTC and UWGB have, so we're going to make sure those students have that access and remove those barriers," Johnson says.

Green Bay Area School District Superintendent Michelle Langenfeld anticipates high interest in the school.

It has room for 250 students from 7th to 9th grade, and the 12th grade. Other grades will follow, eventually up to grade 14. Those students will earn college credits and be able to transfer to colleges like UW-Green Bay or Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

"I think what really makes it exciting is all means all," Langenfeld says. "They are students who may not have had the supports and resources to be successful and then they can find their way."

UW-Green Bay Chancellor Gary Miller sees the school as a sign of the future, and a commitment to building technology-based education system.

"We believe this STEM innovation center, the engineering school, what's happening at Titletown Tech with the Packers and Microsoft, what's going on downtown with Foxconn and now a new innovation school in the greater Green Bay area public schools is the realization of the vision of this community about building a technology-based education system here in Green Bay," Miller says.

The school is a public charter school with its own governance board.

It's expected to open in fall 2019.

"We would expect, as these students, when they get done, will have an associate degree at the very least and many of them will be transferring on to the university as well," says Jeff Rafn, NWTC President.

The district has not yet announced a location for the new school.