The atmosphere at Hauppauge school district's International Baccalaureate presentation reflected a gradual shift of public opinions toward the academic program over the past six months, from outrage to concern.
District officials gathered the Board of Education and more than 60 residents for a second information session and question-and-answer on Oct. 6 before board members make the final vote on whether to go forward with an IB program. Board members expressed support for the academic program, but questioned its financial cost and potential impact.
"There's no doubt the rigor will get [students] ready for college, but my biggest problem is financial," said Board Vice President Eileen Mass. "The biggest problem is how do this financially when we are making classes bigger with all the options we have now?"
Trustees Susan Hodosky and Ginger Todoro expressed similar concerns about the cost, looking ahead to the 2012-2013 school budget while facing a 2 percent tax cap. Hodosky wondered if the school would have enough money to run IB properly.
Hauppauge public schools has spent $100,356 to date on applying to the International Baccalaureate, teacher training, materials and curriculum writing, up from
“The major expenses for this program are behind us now,” Superintendent Patricia Sullivan-Kriss said. “Now is the best time for us to do this as opposed to if we were starting fresh and having to do these things.”
Yearly costs for the International Baccalaureate program would include a $10,000 annual fee, $141 for each student to register with the program, $400 to $5,000 to mail out exams and teacher training, according to Assistant Superintendent Kyrie Siegel. Students would also have to pay $96 per test in each course, where AP tests cost $87 each.
Mass and Todoro’s main concerns included class size, as in September at the high school were some foreign language and social studies courses had up to 39 students.
“I believe in creating options for kids is our responsibility, whether it’s a class that needs to be six or seven students, that will increase class sizes elsewhere,” Sullivan-Kriss said.
One option to make potentially IB classes larger would be to co-seat IB students and AP students in the same class, the superintendent said, as the . The district currently co-seats students in some foreign language courses.
“It would require planning and emphasis on skill sets that are required by both AP and IB. Based on personal experience, I think it can be done and it can strengthen the course of study for both areas,” said Ellen Ryan, Hauppauge’s IB coordinator.
Board member Pat Lesser said she was excited to see Hauppauge school district pursuing the IB program after 10 years on the board.
Hauppauge school district is nearing the end of a two-year application process for the International Baccalaureate program, a two-year international academic program that educates students in six core areas tied together through a Theory of Knowledge course.
Board members will vote at Tuesday’s board meeting on whether to continue with the application, with a site visit from IB officials on Oct. 30, to be accepted into the program.