School Board temporarily shelves IB program at North

During a special called meeting Wednesday evening, the Stanly County Board of Education decided to shelve North Stanly High School’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Program for the upcoming school year.

“When you look at the amount of money and the low interest at this point as well as with COVID-19…it would be hard to start a program under those conditions,” said interim superintendent Vicki Calvert.

She said the school system will spend the next school year investigating the IB program in more detail and also educating the community about it. Calvert said there is a possibility the program could be implemented in the 2021-2022 school year.

North Stanly has been in the candidacy period of establishing the program for the last two years and so far, teachers have still not been properly trained.

In the meeting, Dr. Amy Blake-Lewis, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said it would cost more than $120,000 to fully implement the program for the upcoming school year. This amount would include teacher training, the purchase of required resources and materials and the allocation of additional personnel.

Blake-Lewis said if the school system decided to pause IB for the school year, it would still be obligated to pay the $9,500 candidacy fee in order to keep North Stanly in the program. Stanly County Schools has spent about $30,000 on the program.

There are 14 students enrolled in the program. There are also three ninth graders and six tenth graders who have expressed interest.

Implementing the program has been in the works for at least the past two years. Former North Stanly principal Randy Mann was hired in August 2018 primarily to help spearhead the program. He previously spent many years at South Iredell High School, which is an IB School.

There are more than 90 IB programs throughout the state, according to the IB Schools of North Carolina. North Stanly is included on the list, along with other schools such as Concord High School, Concord Middle School and W. M. Irvin Elementary School, which are all part of Cabarrus County Schools.

There was much discussion about starting IB as a Middle Years Program, which would begin in sixth grade and run through tenth grade, Blake-Lewis said. A full IB Diploma program (for students 16 to 19) could then be created for high school juniors and seniors. The IB Middle Years Program is for students aged 11-16, according to the program’s website.

If SCS were to scrap its IB Diploma Program at NSHS and start over, it would still need to pay a $4,000 application fee along with the $9,500 candidacy fee.

Blake-Lewis, who has been with the school system since mid-June, said she is not sure why the IB program at North Stanly has stalled.

“The intent in that candidacy period is that materials are purchased and teachers are trained,” she said. “I cannot speak to why that did not happen in the two years that Stanly County Schools has been in that candidacy period, but I can tell you that it didn’t happen, teachers were not trained.”

Board member and Instructional Committee Chairwoman Patty Crump said it would be a good idea to reach out to the middle schools, to gauge any interest in the Middle Years Program.

About starting the program this school year, “I don’t think we’re ready,” Crump said, noting that the implementation of the program has thus far been a failure.

“Definitely the ball got dropped,” Board member Anthony Graves said.

He said whomever was responsible for the program “just didn’t follow through with the process.” He expressed interest in looking into starting an IB program at the elementary or middle school level.

Board member Glenda Gibson, a former teacher, said she has only ever been a part of IB programs in elementary and middle schools and doesn’t think starting the program at a high school would be the right move.

She said many people in the county likely don’t even know what the International Baccalaureate, which offers four different programs for students ages 3 to 19, is all about.

Gibson said principals should be educated about IB to learn which ones would want to help spearhead programs in the county. She also suggested having staff at local IB schools come to Stanly to speak to the board about and the pros and cons of the program and how it can best be implemented.

“I would like to hear from those that have experienced it and how they got it off the ground and how receptive was it in their communities and with their faculties,” she said.

Board member Ryan McIntyre said since the school system has already expensed $30,000 towards the program, he supported delaying the implementation of the IB program at North Stanly for another year while also training the teachers.