BY KARISSA MILLER
The International Baccalaureate program will be implemented at Statesville High School without the benefit of a vote of support by the Iredell-Statesville Board of Education.
After weeks of discussion about adding the program — nearly a decade after a previous I-SS board promised it to the community, the current board voted unanimously to remove consideration of IB expansion at Statesville High from Monday’s board meeting agenda.
Chairman Martin Page read a prepared statement explaining why a vote was not taken.
“After listening to board members, I believe that it is the consensus of this board that the curriculum that is to be used at Statesville High School is the decision of the principal, superintendent and school improvement team,” Page said.
“It’s not the board of education’s duties to make a curriculum decision for individual schools, already covered by General Statutes and board policy, (which is) especially true at our Restart schools that have additional freedoms.”
Superintendent Brady Johnson said he was pleased with the outcome, but said he would have preferred for the board to vote publicly in support of adding the IB program at Statesville High.
In the coming days, Statesville High Principal Sheila Jenkins will work with district administrators to advertise an opening for an IB coordinator at the school.
The money to pay for the position will come out of Restart funds earmarked for the school.
Because Statesville High is classified as a Restart School, a designation applied to low-performing schools, the school receives additional funding from the state. In addition, Jenkins has flexibility in staffing and programming typically associated with charter schools in order to boost student achievement.
Board members had raised several concerns about the plan to expand the IB program, which is currently offered at elementary and middle schools in the northern and southern ends of the county as well as South Iredell High School.
Board member Bill Howell voiced support of the program, but said he didn’t believe that Restart funds should be used to pay for it. Additionally, Vice Chairman Chuck Gallyon raised concerns about programming equity in the district’s high schools.
A Clearer Picture of IB
During a meeting on January 6, school administrators and staff gave a detailed presentation to the school board on the costs and benefits of the IB program.
Kelly Hinson, director of IB and Gifted Learning, explained that adding the IB program at Statesville High would create an IB continuum in the southern (Coddle Creek Elementary-Mt. Mourne-South Iredell High School) and northern ends (Cloverleaf Elementary-Northview IB-Statesville High School) of the county.
A map, which was displayed on screen to the board, showed current students attending Northview IB. It showed a cluster around the Statesville community. These students would be able to attend Statesville High and complete the IB program.
Hinson shared with the board that Cloverleaf Elementary will apply for IB authorization later this month, and administrators have full confidence that they will be authorized.
The estimated cost over the first three years to implement the program is $120,000. Each year after authorization is roughly $35,300. The cost of the IB coordinator position is roughly $79,375 for 10 months.
Statesville High School has had turnover in school leadership in the past five years. Jenkins’ arrival midway through the 2018-2019 school year after School Improvement Plan had been adopted by the board.
She knows that the work ahead will be challenging.
Statesville High teachers will be given a choice about IB, Jenkins explained. “There is a required commitment to IB whenever a teacher is sent to training,” she added.
This could potentially mean some changes in staffing as teachers opt to teach elsewhere or transfer to another school. On the other hand, it also has the potential to attract existing IB teachers to help shape the IB program there.
School officials outlined some of the pros during their presentation, which include:
· Research-based, time honored framework that is considered the “gold standard.”
· Effectively trains “soft skills” such as collaboration, communication.
· Promotes leadership and community involvement by students.
· Increased critical thinking and problem solving in students.