About 50 people turned out for a meeting Wednesday night to kick off the second phase of establishing an International Baccalaureate Academy at Katy ISD’s Wolfe Elementary School.
The meeting, held in the Katy ISD board room, was designed to provide an overview of the IB program and recruit volunteers to serve on a committee to develop a logistical plan to recommend to the school board.
Marcy Canady, assistant superintendent for school and community engagement, is project leader for the program.
“Tonight is going to serve as a time to do an overview of what IB is,” Canady told the crowd. “This is the meeting that kicks it all off.”
She said the volunteers selected from those who apply at the meeting will provide the “nuts and bolts” for implementation of the program. The committee’s recommendations will be presented to the school board next year.
“This is the committee that is going to help us design the program that is going to be (at Wolfe),” Canady said.
She stressed the academic portion of the program is “standard worldwide,” and the committee would be charged with developing such logistical issues as transportation, which IB grade levels are implemented first and the timeline for implementation.
“We need to figure out ways Katy ISD is going to support the program,” Canady explained.
She said the committee would meet monthly through next March. At that time, the group will need to make its recommendations so new school facilities could be incorporated into the district’s facilities plan and, ultimately, a bond issue to fund school construction.
“We will need a bond issue to build the actual school. In April, a recommendation has to be made to the board of trustees,” Canady explained. “That’s where we’re headed.”
Alene Lindley, the district’s director of GT and advanced academic skills, provided an overview of the IB program. She said district staff “has been on a learning adventure” to find out more about the program since trustees endorsed the IB concept for Wolfe.
Lindley explained the IB concept is developed around three basic age groups. The “Primary Years Programme” is designed for students in pre-K and elementary levels, the “Middle Years Programme” is for grades 6-10 and the “Diploma Programme” targets grades 11-12.
“The IB Diploma Programme has been around the longest. The Diploma Programme prepares students for university,” Lindley explained.
She also showed a slide describing the “IB Learner Profile.” The information said IB students were “inquirers, thinkers, communicators, risk-takers, knowledgeable, principled, caring, open-minded, well-balanced and reflective.”
Lindley also said the forces shaping the Diploma Programme were “pragmatism, idealism and pedagogy.” The program is designed, she explained, so IB Diploma Programme students would be prepared for acceptance at universities worldwide.
“The IB Diploma Programme guarantees a minimum of 24 hours of college credit at public universities in Texas,” Lindley told the audience.
She also said having a school all three programs “is very unique.” There are currently only 13 such schools in North America.
Lindley also said principals, coordinators and teachers must all undergo specialized IB training and re-training.
“There is continual quality control,” she said.
There are also a number of fees associated with receiving IB certification. The Primary Years Programme will cost $7,000; the Middle Years Programme certification will be $8,000 and the Diploma Programme will run $9,600. Also, there is a $3,500 fee for site evaluations.
Full implementation of IB will probably not take place for 4-5 years. The “consideration phase” will run through 2012; the “candidate phase” is planned for 2012-2013 and the “final phase” from 2013-2014.
Lindley stressed the district was working to ensure a “seamless transition” for students moving from Wolfe into a traditional high school and from traditional district high schools into the IB Diploma Programme.
In asking for committee volunteers, Canady stressed their input would be taken seriously in the development of the program.
“There will be two-way communication and a lot of discussion between educators and committee members,” she said. “We don’t have our minds made up. This will be true community involvement. You guys will help create this, that’s what you’re volunteering to do.”
One of the prospective volunteers, former school board candidate Ross Raymond, asked Canady if students living in the Wolfe attendance zone would have the option of attending a traditional elementary school. Canady said Wolfe would still serve as the elementary for students living in the attendance zone.
“So, do I have an option to be in a traditional elementary program? The answer appears to be ‘probably not,’” Raymond said.
Canady said a final decision on that had not been made, but the answer was more probably “maybe.”
Raymond also asked what would happen to Wolfe if the IB plan falls through.
“It seems the two are inexorably linked together,” he said. “What is the future of Wolfe is the IB program is not implemented?”
Canady said that issue also had not yet been decided.
A decision on who will be appointed to the committee is expected by Nov. 11.
The committee is scheduled to meet on Wednesdays from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Tentative meeting dates are Nov. 18, Dec. 12, Jan. 13, Feb. 3 and March 17.