Critical vote on critical funding expected to occur at Monday’s board meeting
BY KARISSA MILLER
Administrators’ plans to expand the International Baccalaureate (IB) program to Statesville High School sparked a passionate debate at the Iredell-Statesville Board of Education this week.
Superintendent Brady Johnson wants implementation of the IB program at Statesville High to begin in the 2020-2021 school year.
The district, Johnson argues, promised parents a route for students to go from a primary program to an IB middle school to an IB high school in the northern and southern end of the county. Adding the program at Statesville High would allow students in the northern end to seamlessly transition from Cloverleaf Elementary to Northview Middle to Statesville High. Currently, the only IB program for high school students is at South Iredell High.
On Monday, school board members expressed their concerns about the process of bringing the IB program to Statesville High.
Board member Charles Kelly said that a committee met in April, but as far as he knows nothing else was decided at that time and there’s been little discussion since then.
“It bugs me again that we are talking about hiring a director to start in January; yet I’m not real sure the board has approved a plan to start IB at Statesville,” Kelly said.
Part of the misunderstanding stems from the fact that the administration does not need approval from the school board for the IB expansion.
According to Statesville High Principal Sheila Jenkins, that is because IB is not considered a curriculum, rather a framework for instruction.
However, the school board must approve the use of local funding. The board is expected to vote on the matter Monday evening during its regular meeting at 6 p.m. The meeting will take place at the Career Academy and Technical School, 350 Old Murdock Road in Troutman.
Board member Ken Poindexter said raised questions about the cost. He also mentioned that there hasn’t been a great deal of interest from Statesville High parents.
“I think this is a horrible idea,” he said. “It shows lack of fiscal responsibility on the board of education.”
Poindexter also argued that there is no real advantage to taking Advanced Placement (AP) or IB classes, according to college admissions.
Board member Bill Howell said that he thinks the board should wait until a new administration is in place before making a final decision.
The superintendent’s contract was not extended by the board. Johnson’s tenure with the district is scheduled to end on June 30, 2020.
Howell also that the Deputy Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Melanie Taylor has tendered her resignation, effective in February.
Board member Samuel Kennington, whose district includes Statesville High School, voiced his support for the expansion of IB at Statesville.
He reminded the board that the program was promised to the Statesville community when the IB program began at South Iredell High. Some of the money to pay for the program will also come out of the school’s Restart budget.
“SHS has some outstanding students here who need this program. I would be in favor of it,” Kennington said.
Finally, he said, part of the reason Jenkins was hired to be principal at Statesville High was because of her experience as principal at Northview IB, he said.
“Please, let’s not give the public another reason not to trust us,” Kennington pleaded with the board.
Board member Todd Carver also stated he supported the IB program and confirmed he would support funding the program’s expansion at Statesville High.
Carver said he believes it will help the district recruit charter school students back into the system. Also, he also brought up the fact that the program should be continuous from kindergarten to 12th grade.
If the board gives approval, Statesville would start out by implementing the IB Middle Years Program (IB MYP) for 2020.
“It’s just the foundational skills for ninth and tenth grades. It’s solid best practices,” Jenkins explained.
Jenkins believes every child can be successful in an IB program.
“It’s rigorous and translates positively for all children,” she said. “To put it simply, kids don’t get bored with IB because it works.”