You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 8 a.m.

Dexter school district won't join Washtenaw International Baccalaureate program, plans its own

By Lisa Carolin

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 To read more Dexter stories, visit our Dexter page.



Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 11:04 p.m.

From the out of district transfer data for Dexter in the article linked above. These are kids choosing other school districts to attend. Fall 2006, # of students: 83 Fall 2007, # of students: 91 Fall 2008, # of students: 103 Fall 2009, # of students: 133 Fall 2010, # of students:?? This doesn't graph as a straight line. It's an accelerating curve. I personally know two kids from two different families whose parents transferred them out this year. They were fed up with the high school. How do we get this turned around?


Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 4:07 p.m.

For the reader that asked for some links: Graduation rates- School out of district transfers- Specific transfer data for Dexter- A general observation that I have about any IB program being developed as a consortium or individual district program to prepare students for the rigors of college is-what does that say about the current curriculums' in place and the school districts themselves (from administrators, teachers, the unions and school board trustees)? Haven't the promises related to the very numerous, more frequent multi-million dollar bonds that have been passed all been predicated on the need to ensure we are preparing our children for college. Now we need new programs that will only serve a select few. Am I missing something? The educational system within Michigan has adequately prepared numerous generations that wanted to go to college to be able to succeed in college. As we enter the second decade of the 21st century the general student population will be divided by those lucky enough to be in an IB program and the rest doomed to continued mediocrity by educators that will not allow themselves to be held accountable. Shame on each and everyone of us adults who have failed our future generations of the same opportunity afforded us to expect and receive a well rounded education. If Dexter is ahead of the curve, then why hasn't the district retained consistent talent to lead the district for more than two years (on average) at time over the last ten years. According to my research, Dexter schools is going on its 8th person rotating in and out of the Superintendant position in the last 10 years (including interim superintendent spans of time). Good luck to Dexter attracting out-of-district students as the Board president has indicated may be an option (per article). Especially for athletes that would end up in the Dexter district that will either have athletics compeletely self-supporting (over 800K) within 5 years or athletics will be dropped in Dexter (per various articles and Board packets).


Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 1:42 p.m.

Mr. Bannan, the principal before this, had a graduation rate of 98.36 (dropout 1.64). You can see it here at the 2009 annual report (which is only slightly different than the ann arbor news article): Scroll down to just below the maroon T-shirt on the left to see the chart. Mr. Moran was hired at the high school for the 2006-7 school year. Here are the graduation rates since. 2006 (Bannan) 98.36, 1.64 2007 (Moran) 96.85, 3.15 2008 (Moran) 93.98, 6.02 2009 (Moran) 91.95, 8.05 (from the ann arbor news article) It is a trend. Following the graph, the dropout rate should be around 10% next year. Why? And more importantly what can we do to turn things around? People thought that Bannan was too strict, but maybe we've gone too far the other direction. Something's wrong. Dexter has the reputation as a party school now. Very disappointing.


Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 1:13 p.m.

Chalkboard Joe, Could you link to those articles or copy and paste the url into a comment. I'm also concerned about the academic success of the high school. The DHS principal said at a board meeting that the dropout rates are going up because the school isn't allowed to count 5th or 6th year graduates and GEDs. But other schools have seen dropout rates decline without including those iffy numbers. The high school has no ownership over GED, and should not be able to count those students. High school is 4 years--I don't see what 5th and 6th year students have to do with it. I'm glad they are completing the courses, but the high school can't claim it as a "graduation." Also, these aren't new rules, why is the dropout rate going steadily up since this principal started working there? Something's wrong. And I'm not convinced the grad. rate is going to stay above 90%. I hope it will!

Pam Wilson

Thu, Oct 21, 2010 : 9:01 p.m.

IB programs are comprehensive, thorough, expansive, education programs that long overdue in Washtenaw County. If you look at other areas that have these programs, most have one school or district that hosts the program (i.e, Longmont Colorado, Troy Public School District and many cities abroad). Students must apply to participate in these programs and may commute long distances for this opportunity. There is a very high retention and graduation rate and most students earn many college credits based on the very difficult IB examinations that must be passed during their Senior year. I would like to see one well thought out program in Washtenaw County. Here's to hoping that all of the Washtenaw County school districts come together, combining all of their talents to create a superb IB program.


Wed, Oct 20, 2010 : 8:30 a.m.

As a parent in Dexter who has had two children go through all eight years of the entire band program (5-12 grades) I can say without hesitation that the Dexter music program is an outstanding program. Both of my children benefited immensely from the band program, and its not only music education that is a benefit. The program has definitely helped both of them academically, improved their self-esteem, made them feel part of a dynamic and outstanding team, taught them to be self-disciplined, etc. The music program in Dexter is one of the best in the state, and that claim can be supported by the marching bands recent straight first-division, all A ratings at District Marching Band Festival. Approximately 1/6 of DHS students are in just the band program. That number does not take into account the orchestra or vocal music programs. To see the program compromised in ANY way would be a disservice to all of those students and the District itself. The IB program has merit. I only hope the needs of all students and the potential consequences of some actions are taken into consideration when making decisions. Dexter has a long history of going it alone and doing things their way, and it definitely seems to be reflected in the quality of education they provide. Its hard to argue with statistics. The District is also in a much better financial situation than other area districts due to prudent money management decisions in the past years. I have faith that the Dexter Board will make the right decisions along the way and that they will neither compromise, nor forget, the outstanding music program that has been built in this District.


Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 10:43 p.m.

According to the article..."Twelve Dexter teachers have already been trained to teach in the International Baccalaureate program and several more still need to be trained." According to one poster, the 7 more needing training will not cost anything. How can that be? It is also interesting that the former Dexter Superintendent gave a joint presentation on the value of a countywide program several months ago, At its February 9, 2010 regular meeting, the WISD Board of Education: heard a presentation on a proposed county International Baccalaureate (IB) program from Rob Glass, Superintendent Dexter Community Schools, and Naomi Norman, WISDs Director of Assessment and Research Services. They gave an overview of the IB diploma program and curriculum which is recognized worldwide and provides its students with a global education for the 21st century. They also reviewed the exploratory committee planning process and estimated timelines for the project. Washtenaw Superintendents reviewed the proposed IB program at their December 2009, meeting and approved moving forward with the planning at their January 2010 meeting. Then Glass only a month later added to the proposed Dexter 2010-2011 budget (that needed 3 million in cuts to balance) over 200K in new costs for a duplicate IB program in Dexter to the one he was helping WISD form (per board packet information posted on their website). I guess some posters on this topic do not think that is very much money to add to a budget when you are cutting 3 million dollars. Then again, the interim Superintendent is grappling with the extra $150 per student that the state is expected to add to all districts budget (per a recent article).


Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 9:58 p.m.

I attended the first parent meeting at DHS regarding the IB program so yes, they are seeking parent input although it was the teachers/administration who initiated this idea. Dexter is through the first phase for establishing its IB program; it still needs an on-site evaluation by the IB folks before it is a certified program. And they need to make sure they have enough interest to make it go. Its a process. My understanding is that there are costs to train the teachers (done) and about $9000 in annual program fees. When the teachers aren't teaching an IB class, they will have other, regular high school classes. So there isn't per se added costs for more teachers, although it does sound like the IB teachers need a bit more planning time. My understanding was that it wasn't going to be an astronomical added cost to do IB. The barrier with the music program isn't because Dexter doesn't have teachers who can do IB music, but that they haven't figured out how to schedule the day so kids can do the IB diploma program and music. Kids can stay in the music programs and take IB classes, they just won't be able to take all the IB classes to get the IB diploma. Dexter has an awesome music program - ask around. Yes, Dexter's graduation dropped in 2009. But the 5% change isn't much more than some of the annual variation you see at other schools. Should the administration be alarmed and look at improving graduation rates? Definitely. Does this exclude the possibility of doing IB, too? No. Its not like Dexter can only do one thing at a time. Should Dexter do this on its own? I think so. The costs aren't huge, or so I'm lead to believe. It seems to me Dexter is doing lots of things right - and can do IB right, too. Dexter has a great track record on MEAP, good graduation rates (despite recent drop), has a National School To Watch, and has a middle school administrator who was 1 of just 2 Runners-up for Best Middle School Administrator Nationally. Dexter isn't a "school of choice" because it chooses NOT to be - the buildings are already full. Keeping the IB program in Dexter allows kids to enjoy Dexter's music, sports and extracurricular activities while taking as many IB classes as they want.


Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 2:54 p.m.

According to the table published in, the graduation rate for Dexter in 2009 was 91.95% compared to 96.5% in 2007 and Chelsea had a graduation rate of 95.02% in 2009. Since my facts have been questioned, I have searched for additional independent information from prior articles about Dexter and found the following. also reported recently that Dexter has lost almost 135 students in the last few years because Dexter students are leaving to go to other schools of choice within Washtenaw County; 35 of those leaving within the last two years. Dexter needs to focus on the falling graduation rate and why kids are leaving the school district instead of spending money on a duplicate program that can have all districts share the costs and realize the benefits for those few students (16 to date in Dexter) that choose an IB program. One poster asked why join the WISD IB program when you could go to Dexters. Dexter is not a school district of choice. Dexter kids are leaving, but Dexter doesn't allow non-Dexter kids in. Also, published articles and comments from Dexter residents state that in-District bus rides are around 2 hours per day; at least 1/2 hour more than what some posters are suggesting the ride will be to the WISD IB site. As for Dexter community input driving the decision, the same handful of articles I referenced earlier also show that the majority of posters to those articles would probably disagree that this decision will be community based given the districts top-down decision to force single tier busing against the many voices from within the community not wanting single tier busing; even rejecting the union plan that met the financial budget reduction goals, yet preserved two-tiered busing. More buses were purchased to achieve the District plan that was sold on saving money.


Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 9:44 a.m.

I stand corrected on my statistics, but not my assertion that Dexter is doing the right thing. You will see the DHS graduation rate remaining above 90% for years to come because of the community involvement and good leadership in the schools and district. Go Dreads! With only 25 students in a graduating class, the Central Academy's numbers are misleading. They needed to improve on 82% from 2007.


Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 9:24 a.m.

Joe. You need to include all the facts. Dexter has had the highest graduation rate of any public school in Washtenaw Co. for the past 4 years. It did decrease from 2008(96.53%) to 2009(93.40%), but those were and are the highest in the county. The Dexter School District is engaging it's citizens and holding regular meetings regarding the IB program. This is a community decision and I'm sure that the voices of it's residents are being heard. Having the WISD IB program in Ypsi is a logistical problem when the kids would be on a bus for 90 minutes, or more, a day to make the sojourn. It would also be a problem for any kid that wanted to participate in after school events. By the way, you forgot to mention the associated costs with implementing the WISD program and the cost of transporting kids from all over the county. Thanks for taking the time to register your complaint from outside the district.


Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 9:02 a.m.

Graduation Rates as published by in May 2010 School District200920082007 Ann Arbor87.6987.53%86.90% Central Academy95.6589.47%82.61% Chelsea95.0290.53%91.44% Dexter91.9593.40%96.53% although those shown with Dexter did go up, others in the table did go down-led by Ypsilanti. as quoted in the article above: " the high school next year but has not made a final commitment to it."


Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 8:58 a.m.

As posted in May, 2010: School District 2009 2008 2007 Ann Arbor 87.69 87.53% 86.90% Central Academy 95.65 89.47% 82.61% Chelsea 95.02 90.53% 91.44% Dexter 91.95 93.40% 96.53%

Jonny Spirit

Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 8:52 a.m.

@chalkboardjoe "Dexter has NOT started a new IB program nor according to the superintendent, Dexter has NOT yet decided on whether to have one...the article is saying that Dexter will not join the WISD IB program that will start next year (Ann Arbor already joining, Ypsi most likely and others to announce by months end)." You may want to get your fact straight. YES Dexter has started an IB program. All teachers are going through the training process and it will be up and running next year. All schools who start IB will also need to do this. The reason Dexter is not joining WISD is because they will already be one year in @chaulkboardjoe "This paper had recently reported graduation rates and Dexter had the second highest drop in graduation rates (5% drop over a two year period) of any other school district in Washtenaw county. I don't think an IB program is what the students in Dexter need." Before you post any useless information could you please do some research Dexter has a drop out rate of 2-5 per year. That is out of a class size of 300-350. So if you don't know don't type. Dexter is ahead of the curve and should be. They are taking a chance to better there schools and Bravo for that. And for your remark on busing, umm Dexter still has there OWN transportation. They did not outsource there bus drivers! And yes kids will be picked up for free and dropped off to a school that offers IB and that place is Dexter Community Schools


Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 8:30 a.m.

Dexter has NOT started a new IB program nor according to the superintendent, Dexter has NOT yet decided on whether to have one...the article is saying that Dexter will not join the WISD IB program that will start next year (Ann Arbor already joining, Ypsi most likely and others to announce by months end). No numbers have been provided by Dexter to show how many students are needed to be taken out of the regular classrooms (getting over 3 million in cuts last year) to make this "new" program financially viable. Needing 19 teachers (per the article) and being paid on average $50K, Dexter may need at least 118 students pulled from the general classrooms to cover the cost of just the teacher salaries. Plus the article states that the music program will need to be upgraded (more money) to also teach theory and there is no mention of the other additional costs associated with the new program. This paper had recently reported graduation rates and Dexter had the second highest drop in graduation rates (5% drop over a two year period) of any other school district in Washtenaw county. I don't think an IB program is what the students in Dexter need. Oh yes, Dexter is certainly ahead of the curve by spending more money on a new program in a district that has proven that they can't maintain their graduation rate and WISD will be running a duplicate program. Where do we sign up? Just can't sell my house to move to Dexter, nor pay for transportation to get to Dexter. But if I lived in Dexter, there will be buses to get to the WISD program. Guess I will just stay where I am and send my kids to the WISD IB program.


Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 7:54 a.m.

Dexter will fork out big bucks to have its own program. But my question is: why not join up with the county to do the same thing, and get the economy of scale? Is it because the school might be in *gasp* Ypsi? Or because you want to keep your kids in Dexter for sports?

Jonny Spirit

Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 7:26 a.m.

Dexter is so far ahead of the curve. Why join Washtenaw when they have there's already started. Be careful this may be another flavor of the month. 6 months from now it is going to be? Then each school district can fork out even more money to join that one. Remember when school was school, and you went there to learn. Now a district needs a program to help them figure out what classes to run and what classes to cut. Well maybe because we have districts that have leaders that have never been in a classroom. Oh well Go Dexter, way to be a leader!