Dexter school district won't join Washtenaw International Baccalaureate program, plans its own
Dexter Community Schools will likely offer its own high school level International Baccalaureate program in the 2011-2012 school year and will not participate in the proposed countywide Washtenaw International High School. The school board voted 7-0 Monday night on the recommendation of Interim Superintendent Mary Marshall, who said it would be redundant for Dexter to participate in both programs.
Marshall told the board that the district is very interested in having an International Baccalaureate program, which offers a specific curriculum aimed at preparing students for college and the professional world, at the high school next year but has not made a final commitment to it.
So far, 16 Dexter students have handed in applications for the program. More applications are expected, but one of the stumbling blocks is that Dexter's band and orchestra programs, which center on performance, do not qualify for the International Baccalaureate's humanities program, which includes both theory and performance.
Joe Romeo, president of the district's teaches union, the Dexter Education Association, agreed with the board's decision that Dexter should have its own International Baccalaureate program.
"It will allow us to consider issues like band, that are Dexter specific," he said.
Romeo added that having its own program will make the Dexter school district more attractive to students. He said transportation is one of the larger concerns about the Washtenaw International High School because its proposed location is in Ypsilanti in that district's now-closed East Middle School.
Other area districts are also considering whether to join the county's program. Ann Arbor voted last week to be part of it.
Twelve Dexter teachers have already been trained to teach in the International Baccalaureate program and several more still need to be trained.
There will be three more information sessions this trimester in Dexter for those interested in learning about the program.
The International Baccalaureate program is currently offered in 139 countries and in 33 Michigan schools. The I.B. Diploma Programme, which is what would be offered at the high school level, is aimed at helping students succeed in college and beyond in the interconnected, globalized world. The curriculum includes courses in languages, social studies, the experimental sciences and mathematics. In addition, students must take a theory of knowledge course to encourage them to reflect on the nature of knowledge. They also learn from experiences outside the classroom.
Lisa Carolin is a freelance reporter for AnnArbor.com. To read more Dexter stories, visit our Dexter page.