Holmes IB plans on hold – district has questions

       Research into putting an International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Holmes Middle School has been put on hold to let District 11 officials examine the idea..
       Holmes Principal Brenda LaBrasse had begun a six-month “investigative phase” in January - talking first with teachers and parent groups - in the hope, she told the Westside Pioneer, that a positive result could lead to an IB program this fall for the entire sixth grade.
       Eventually, she said, she envisions the program being for all students at Holmes. She said she is impressed by IB's “inquiry- based” philosophy of teaching and its community service elements.
       But for now, at least, the process is in abeyance while being reviewed by Dr. Mary Thurman, District 11 deputy superintendent; and Bill Shell, executive director for middle schools.
       District spokesperson Elaine Naleski said the two administrators “will determine if the proposal will go to the school board.”
       The same sort of review is taking place for Sabin Middle School, located on the east side, which has also been considering starting an IB program.
       The only current District 11 middle school with an IB Middle Years Programme is North, which provides it to some, but not all, students based on choice and individual qualification criteria.
       Naleski said the district wants to know how much a Holmes IB program would cost and “to make sure that's it right for the school and can be maintained.”
       LaBrasse said that an IB program would cost more than the current curriculum and that to cover the expense the school “needs more funds from the district.”
       No dollar figures were available
       One possible question is the impact on students from Midland Elementary, a Westside school that has the only IB Preliminary Years Programme in the district. IB fifth-grade students from Midland this year who want to stay in the program have been told they would go to North, which is on the other side of I-25.
       LaBrasse said the uncertainty is “discouraging.” An immediate impact was losing the opportunity to use tickets she had reserved for 13 school staffers for an introductory IB seminar in Salt Lake City over spring break, at which time she had been “hoping a lot of our questions could be answered.”
       Such information could have helped shape a proposal for the board, she said.
        LaBrasse said she had begun acting on the IB idea without proposing it first to the district because she thought individual schools had the go-ahead to be “entrepreneurial” in seeking academic improvements.
        In her preliminary research, she said, “We've gotten very favorable feedback,” and her teachers are “ready and waiting” to move forward on the idea.
       “I just wanted one more way to meet the needs of all our students,” she said.

Westside Pioneer Article