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The Lawrence school board agreed Monday not to pursue starting an International Baccalaureate Diploma program, at least for the time being. But board members haven't given up on the idea of searching for other kinds of advanced-studies programs to benefit college-bound students.
That was the consensus on the board after a committee of teachers from both district high schools gave a report saying the program would be expensive for the district as well as for students taking part, and that it would likely benefit only a small number of students who are already highly successful.
"The cost was a concern," said Tracy Murray, a history teacher at Lawrence High School who was part of the committee assigned to study the feasibility of starting an International Baccalaureate program.
The International Baccalaureate, or IB program, is offered through a private, nonprofit corporation. It's currently available in 146 countries.
Like the better-known Advanced Placement, or AP program operated by the College Board, it offers advanced courses in a variety of subjects. But the IB program is more geared toward humanities and liberal arts
And unlike AP courses, which students can take on an "a la carte" basis, the IB program requires students to complete the entire program curriculum in order to earn the diploma.
According to the committee's report, starting an IB program in Lawrence likely would have required about $48,000 in up-front costs during the first three years, plus an estimated $82,000 a year in ongoing costs.
For students and their families, the program would cost about $775 in registration and test fees during their junior and senior years.
Board president Rick Ingram, one of the chief supporters of the IB program, said he was disappointed by the recommendation.
"The cost (to the district) doesn't concern me," Ingram said, adding that if the committee had urged the board to move forward, the district could have come up with the money.
"One thing that makes IB so appealing is the global focus and foreign language," said board vice president Shannon Kimball, who also had hoped to bring the IB program to Lawrence. "In the United States we are woefully behind in emphasizing language acquisition as an important skill."
As an alternative, the faculty committee recommended the board consider expanding the existing AP curriculum with a new program called the AP Cambridge Capstone program.
Committee members said that program is more closely aligned to the new Common Core standards in reading and math, as well as the Next Generation Science Standards, all of which have been adopted in Kansas. They also said it would be more affordable, both to the district and to students and their families.
In other business, the board:
• Conducted an informal work session to hear about energy-efficiency design plans for buildings being renovated as part of the $92.5 million bond issue approved in April.
• Authorized the sale of 2.7 acres to Alvamar Inc. for $206,400, plus any incidental costs associated with the closing.
• Approved a $14,491 contract with the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence for middle school after-school programming at the Boys and Girls Club Teen Center for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
• Approved a lease with Haskell Property LLC for approximately 25,000 square feet of warehouse space at 910 E. 29th St. for $7,842 per month.
• Authorized executing a quit claim deed for a Civil War-era cemetery to Curtis and Marilyn Hall for $1.
• And approved the continuation of the Employee Assistance Program with New Directions Behavioral Health as the provider.