Hutchinson School district officials expect to spend about $193,000 to bring Hutchinson High School into a rigorous academic program for college-bound students.
But the investment in joining the International Baccalaureate Program would be worth it, officials say. Students who receive IB diplomas significantly raise their chances of acceptance by some of the nation's most selective colleges.
Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the program is offered at 1,300 schools in 100 countries. The organization's Web site lists just three participating high schools in Kansas Shawnee Mission East, Wichita East and Sumner Academy in Kansas City, Kan.
The program provides students the option to judge their progress according to an international standard while participating in a liberal arts curriculum designed to stretch learning opportunities beyond a traditional high school.
"For students, it will open the door to the foundation of knowing and knowledge," said Wynona Winn, superintendent of USD238. "That's the best way I can describe what it will do."
To bring the program to fruition, the district expects to spend about $193,000 over a four-year period to apply and institute what will then be a two-year program. The program would become an option for juniors beginning in 2004.
Todd Ray, a Hutchinson High school social studies teacher who is the district's IB coordinator designate, said the program consisted of at least 240 hours of academic instruction and 150 hours of community service and action.
The IB curriculum itself requires courses in six separate areas, with some of the courses at advanced levels. Students are also required to learn a second language.
"It's going to make the adjustment to college much, much easier for students," Ray said. "It's going to help students be already familiar with the way classes are set up and what's expected of them."