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Posted on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 : 6:01 a.m.

Countywide International Baccalaureate program could be housed in closed East Middle School

By David Jesse

A new countywide International Baccalaureate program could be housed in the recently closed East Middle School in the Ypsilanti school district in the fall of 2011.

“The building will probably need some additional renovations to make it suitable for the high school IB program,” Washtenaw Intermediate School District spokeswoman Gerri Allen said in a statement. “The review to ensure that any needed modifications can be done is under way. While the site is being finalized this school year, a group of educators will work on the curriculum."

“By this fall, a proposal will be presented to each of the school's boards for their review and decision about participating," Allen's statement said. "Each district that decides to participate will be given a specified number of slots for which their students can apply. WISD will serve as the fiscal agent.”

031910_News_East Middle School_1.jpg

East Middle School closed as a middle school at the end of the school year.

File photo

East Middle School closed at the end of the 2009-10 school year as part of the Ypsilanti school district's budget cuts.

“Ypsilanti Public Schools is elated with the prospects of the prestigious IB program being housed at the former East Middle School,” said district spokeswoman Emma Jackson. “East is a beautiful, spacious, newly renovated facility and we will be pleased if this proposal comes to fruition.”

The Washtenaw County Superintendents Association has been talking about adding an IB program at the high school level for much of the last school year.

“This spring, they voted to move ahead with the planning of a countywide magnet high school using the IB Diploma Program, beginning with a target of 150 students with a goal of up to 600 students by year four,” Allen said.

International Baccalaureate is a rigorous program of learning used around the world with advanced students. Currently, 31 IB programs exist in Michigan, with another 30 or more in various stages of the authorization process.

David Jesse covers K-12 education for the He can be reached at or at 734-623-2534.



Fri, Jul 2, 2010 : 12:41 p.m.

I would be willing to pay some tuition for my children to have access to a program like this.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 11:23 a.m.

The questions that need to answered before another penney is spent would include. How much money to renovate East Middle School. You're going to need to install computers and who knows what else for the students to use. This effort will also require custodial staff, food service operations, administrative staff and teachers. How much will all these items cost and how is it going to be paid for. I somehow don't think the $6,000 per student is going to cover it. For that matter, I would expect any local board of education that agrees to paraticipate is going to get crucified by their constituents for throwing away $8,000 per student. We would be better off eliminating the Intermediate School Districts and consolidating this function in Lansing under the State Board of Education. We could save a lot of money for what would probably be virtually no loss of function. It's time to clear this bunch out.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 11:19 a.m.

I don't know where did the $6,000 number came from as I didn't see it in the article. I know the Oakland County system operates by each of the participating school districts receiving their standard per student grant from the State, giving the minimum State per pupil funding amount to Internatioal Academy for each student enrolled, and keeping the remainder for their own use. How can a school with a very rigorous academic program maintain operations with less money than the "home" districts? Easy, they only enroll students who want to learn. Students who most likely were raised in homes where education is valued rather than blasted.


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 10:33 a.m.

Interesting story and even more interesting comments. Let me see if I have this right. WISD is able to put together a program that has higher standards than the districts that form the consortium, WISD will get $6,000 for each kid that willingly chooses to leave their district (which the district will lose $8,000), WISD will be able to use less money than the 10 districts in Washtenaw County to teach kids a more rigorous program, and the IB degree will make IB graduates more marketable to institutions of higher learning throughout the world. So why are we paying the taxes we are to the public schools for a lessor education when the WISD IB program will be done without any new millages or increase of taxes (right?), and why can we not use a school voucher (the same $6000 dollar amount WISD will/does get)to send our child to any school we choose to? Of course WISD is already in the business of taking kids (and tax dollars from the districts)out of the public school district by running the Honey Creek Charter School at the WISD complex and soon they will own 5 out of the 10 districts transportation assets. And who is WISD held accountable to again? I understand their role in the special needs area (doing a great job at that), but there are no known publicly elected officials who oversee, guide and provide checks and balances of the WISD operation that is funded by public monies. Very interesting indeed.


Wed, Jun 30, 2010 : 11:39 p.m.

One really needs needs to be informed about the International Baccalaureate diploma, before denouncing it. An IB school is not just another ordinary high school. The curriculum is the same for over a hundred countries around the world. An IB school is often called a 'World School', for that reason. The curriculum is very rigorous and demanding and not for students who just want it to look good on their resume. The education received is exceptional as are the students who are willing to work extremely hard. The IB diploma is especially useful for students who plan to study abroad.; it is recognized by most of the top universities in the world. The International Baccalaureate Academy in Oakland County was ranked the 25th best high school in the U.S. by Newsweek.

Martin Church

Wed, Jun 30, 2010 : 11:27 a.m.

Just what we need another way to lose kids. Questions that need to be asked before the place starts. 1. What will the students be qualified to do for a living when they leave. Tech schools and WTMC the students are qualified for employment. 2. The loss of these students from the local districts means a loss of revenue to those same districts. (over $8,000 to local districts the WISD picks up $6000 per year). 3. Our we ready to declare our local schools so badly run that sending kids to this program is our only option. And if so why don't we close all of our schools and let the WISD run them. 4. How is the WISD going to be held accountable to the local Voters?


Wed, Jun 30, 2010 : 11:02 a.m.

This looks like another stinker. As I read the article each district will have to decide to participate and if they do they are going to have to fund it out of their current budgets thus further depleting the resources available or; surpise, surprise, jam another millage increase down our throats.


Wed, Jun 30, 2010 : 11 a.m.

How would this compete with the new High School program the Ypsilanti district is planning for the former Ardis elementary building? To answer other questions regarding teachers, I know that Oakland County has a consortium of schools that cooperate supplying teachers and students to International Academy - the first IB high school in Michigan. In this school's operational model the teachers remain employees of their home district, receiving that district's pay scale and benefits, but all work at International Academy as s single staff. Most teachers are full time, but some part time instructors are utilized to provide the IB students with a broader curriculum than what the IB school's relatively low student count could ordinarily provide. The part time teachers work the remainder of their day at their home district. All teachers adhere to the same schedule, work days and work hours, rather than the schedules of their home districts. WISD will obviously set the rules, but I would not be surprised if they choose to closely copy what is working in Oakland County.

Tony Livingston

Wed, Jun 30, 2010 : 10:44 a.m.

This sounds like a great program, but I am suspicious. Ann Arbor has a way of presenting things as good for everyone but when it comes down to it, often it is just another way to funnel resources to elite students. There are a lot of students here who have access to tremendous educational resources outside of school. The administration needs to be much better about leveling the playing field so the ordinary kids can get in and benefit from the opportunities also.


Wed, Jun 30, 2010 : 9:55 a.m.

Wonderful news! I'm keeping my fingers crossed for this to happen.

Dr. I. Emsayin

Wed, Jun 30, 2010 : 9:08 a.m.

An IB program has been of interest to many in the county. Some districts have discussed starting one in their own schools. I have some questions about implementation. Will the teachers at the IB program have to move from their current school district in Washtenaw County to the ISD? Will there be countywide busing available? How will students be selected for the program, using standardized tests or recommendations and grades? And, will students who attend the program be able to play sports at their "home school" or will the IB program also offer a sports program as a comprehensive high school?


Wed, Jun 30, 2010 : 8:36 a.m.

Love the forward thinking. I think this could be very successful!


Wed, Jun 30, 2010 : 8:19 a.m.

Great idea.


Wed, Jun 30, 2010 : 7:26 a.m.

Cool. Looks like a win-win for everyone.

Chris Blackstone

Wed, Jun 30, 2010 : 5:51 a.m.

This is an excellent idea. I would seriously consider sending my kids there instead of my "neighborhood" school.