International baccalaureate program discontinued |

International baccalaureate program discontinued

Douglas Greenwood, Of the Record Staff

The cost of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program was at the brunt of the conversation at the board meeting Tuesday night. The question wasn’t whether or not to discontinue the program, but rather, should it be phased out or stopped immediately. Board members based their decision to halt the program on the recommendation that came from the two middle-school principals.

The program costs the district about $120,000 annually through membership dues, travel for professional development and the salaries of the two IB coordinators, one at each middle school, according to figures from Park City School District Superintendent Ray Timothy. During the March 8 board meeting Ecker Hill principal Traci Evans and Treasure Mountain principal Bob O’Connor requested the program be phased out through the last two years of accreditation.

O’Connor and Evans said they hoped that students who had already invested time and effort would still be able to earn the middle-years certificate. Board member Charles Cunningham said he felt it would be more effective to offer a certificate from the school district in place of the official middle-years program certificate.

"That is a lot of money for a phase out," Cunningham said at the meeting Tuesday.

"The phase out would keep staff in position, and that’s the cost that board-member Cunningham is referencing," Timothy said Tuesday. "That would be just to have someone there to make sure they are following proper IB protocol."

Board Member Michael Boyle said cost wasn’t the only issue as he pointed to the programs slated to roll out in the middle schools next year.

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"There is the cost aspect, but there is also the program aspect," Boyle said. He pointed to the common core rolling into the four middle-school grades, the laptop rollout that will place a computer in the hands of every middle-school student and the expansion of the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol as initiatives that may trump the IB program.

"Even for the dollars, quite honestly, what really would guide my suggestion for immediately [discontinuing IB] would be the program needs," Boyle said. He said that if the program included the high school International Diploma the outcome would likely be different. The middle school certificate carries little weight with college admissions compared to what the diploma would offer, Boyle added.

The program brought a focus on raising the caliber of education to the middle schools at a crucial time, according to board member Lisa Kirchenheiter. But she said it may have run its course and should be put aside in the face of SIOP and high access.

"It was a good program for the time," Kirchenheiter said. "I am very happy that we had the program. I think it increased the rigor at the middle level.

"I’m sorry to see it go, but I think it is the right decision," she added.

The board unanimously voted to discontinue the program with no phase out. The school board will determine when and to what the names of the middle schools will be changed, according to O’Connor. The district isn’t scheduled to reauthorize for IB accreditation for another two years.