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North Carolina gave Buncombe County schools $800,000 to pay for enriched science education for fifth graders, Gov. Pat McCrory’s office said Monday. The money comes from the newly created Education and Workforce Innovation Fund. Lawmakers set up the fund last year. The school district was among 11 getting grants ranging from $350,000 to $800,000 for five-year programs .The governor’s office said Buncombe’s money would go toward providing “enriched science curriculum for all fifth grade students, and will support the educator professional development and community engagement strategies necessary to building a true STEM culture in Buncombe Schools.”

Buncombe will be home to Western North Carolina’s first STEM school — standing for science, technology, engineering and math — though the grant appears aimed at all fifth graders. Buncombe Discovery Academy will replace the former Career Technical Education Center, sharing space with the county school system's administrative offices at 175 Bingham Road. One hundred students will be admitted for classes starting in August. The school will grow to an enrollment of 400.Application deadline is March 28.

“These grants will accelerate innovation and partnerships with business and higher education in schools throughout North Carolina, and will empower our educators to be creative in how we prepare our students for college and a career,” McCrory said in the announcement.

Members of the Education and Workforce Innovation Commission include State Superintendent June Atkinson, University of North Carolina system President Tom Ross, North Carolina Community Colleges President Scott Ralls, State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey and other business leaders from around the state, the governor’s office said. Billie Redmond, Chief Executive Officer of TradeMark Properties, is the chair of the commission