The city’s school board sought reassurance on Wednesday night the district’s expected budget cuts will spare the prestigious International Baccalaureate (IB) program at International High School which is on target to open this September.
School board member Jonathan Hodges said he is “terrified” the internationally renowned Swiss education program may be nipped before full implementation. Hodges and board member Errol Kerr wanted assurances from the superintendent that teachers who have received specialized training will not be axed in any potential layoffs.
“You cannot have this program without having those people who have gone through a specific training set,” said Hodges.
“How will we protect these teachers?” asked Kerr. He said there is ongoing training that teachers are receiving in preparation for the program’s opening.
State-appointed district superintendent Donnie Evans said he will have to hold discussions with the teachers union before giving any assurances.
“I can’t make any guarantees,” said Evans.
Kerr said many of the teachers who are receiving training for the program are young and will likely be the first in line to go if the district decides on a new round of layoffs.
Kerr asked whether there is an agreement between the IBO and the district which would protect the program from cuts. There are no special agreements that would prevent teacher layoffs at the program, according to the district.
Evans has said he does not intend to layoff teachers and principals this time around. His potential budget cut list includes an item – terminating one position from each school – which may impact teachers.
The district began the three-year process towards gaining IB authorization in fall 2014, according to the district. In September 1st, 2015, International High School was designated as a candidate school for the IB’s Diploma Programme, the program for students ages 16-19.
International High School is expected to receive final authorization in the 2016-17 school year, according to the district.
The district has 37 ninth graders in an accelerated cohort at International High School in preparation for the IB. It intends to add another 40 students who are currently in the eighth grade to the cohort for 2016-17 school year.
Six teachers and an IB coordinator have been trained in the IB curriculum and instruction methods, according to the district.
Paterson will have the first IB program in Passaic County when it opens in September, according to the district.
“This is a program we cannot afford to lose,” said Kerr. “If we make it our flagship program in the district it will attract students.”
This report was last updated on February 24th, 2016 at 10:57 p.m.