International Baccalaureate program in Summit County: Where the money goes
Editor’s note: This story is one in a multipart series on Summit School District’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program. Today’s story focuses on the costs of the program and how resources are allocated among the district’s schools.SUMMIT COUNTY – Summit School District’s budget is under especially close scrutiny this year, in light of declining revenues and expenditure cuts in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. And the International Baccalaureate (IB) program has not escaped the attention of the school board, administrators, teachers or taxpayers during discussions about what to cut.Late last month, the school board cut $52,000 from next year’s IB expenses. The money would have gone to elementary teachers who spent time outside the school day developing interdisciplinary lesson plans. Some community members thought deeper cuts to IB were in order, which begs questions on how much the district spends on IB and where the money goes.In total, Summit School District will spend $240,800 next year on IB throughout all grade levels from preschool to 12th grade. Superintendent Millie Hamner says those funds are wisely spent, as IB is the district’s educational program, providing consistency and continuity in curriculum, character education, real-world applications of classroom lessons, and the most current instructional methods.”As an education organization, why would we not invest in our educational program?” Hamner asked.
Each school authorized as an IB school by the International Baccalaureate Organization pays an annual subscription fee. The fees provide curriculum, assessment materials and ongoing support for the program’s implementation. Next year, the district will spend a combined $64,600 on annual fees for all its schools. The figure is projected to drop to $59,600 in the 2012-2013 school year, once all the district’s elementary schools are fully authorized – two elementary schools are still in the process of seeking authorization.Each of the four elementary schools that have already been authorized pays $7,000 in annual fees. Summit High School spends $9,600 in fees for the IB Diploma Programme – an optional college-preparatory program in which 168 juniors and seniors are taking classes this year.Some parents and community members have advocated that the district provide IB-style instruction without paying the annual fees to the organization. According to Lou Marchesano, Summit Schools’ director of instruction, that wouldn’t be possible.For one thing, IB materials, lesson plans, rubrics, assessments and other resources are copyrighted materials, just as is the content of any text book. “Think of all the money you would have to put into creating something different enough that you wouldn’t be violating copyright,” Marchesano said. “IB is very well researched, and it continues to be modified with the latest research. By paying these fees, we are contributing to the international educational community to continue to grow and develop this program. I don’t know if we could do that on our own for $60,000, to be quite honest.”
Summit School District plans to spend $33,200 next year on professional development related to IB. The IB organization requires ongoing training for teachers, a good deal of which takes place locally at the Keystone Center.”Even if we weren’t doing IB, we would have ongoing professional development costs. Teachers would still be training and going through some kind of professional development,” Marchesano said.And the district benefits from having ongoing professional development under the IB umbrella, according to Marchesano, as it assures that staff are receiving consistent training and returning to classrooms together with a common set of tools.
The third category of IB spending is staff coordination, which will cost the district $143,000 next year in staff salaries. The IB Organization requires that every authorized school designate a coordinator who serves as a liaison between school staff and the organization. They provide instructional support and assure sound implementation of the IB program in all classrooms. “Their time is not being used to push IB paper. They’re more instructional coaches, working with their colleagues to deepen implementation of the pedagogy of IB,” Marchesano said.Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-4630 or email@example.com.
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