administrators formally recommended Monday night the school board vote to convert into an all-International Baccalaureate school.
If the board adopts the recommendation, students who want to be in the traditional program would be moved to over the next three years.
In the 2012-13 school year, first and second graders in the traditional program would move to Baker. In 2013-14, traditional third graders would move and the kindergarten program would be converted to PYP. And finally in 2014-15, fourth graders would move.
Superintendent Patrick O'Toole provided two main reasons for the decision. Number one, students are being offered more and more options when it comes to education. Upper St. Clair School District is in competition with private, parochial, charter and cyber charter schools. Currently, there are 25 students in the district who are in charter or cyber charter schools. The district pays an average of $9,000 per student who chooses a charter or cyber charter and $18,000 a student in special education who chooses a charter or cyber charter.
Number two; there is a demand for IB's Primary Years Program. In the 2007-08 school year, 50 percent of Streams students were enrolled in PYP. Currently, there are 80 percent of Streams students in PYP, with another five percent on the waiting list.
There is only one traditional classroom per grade at Streams right now, which means students have to have the same classmates all four years. Half of the students in the first grade traditional classroom are on the waiting list to get into PYP.
The cost of keeping PYP at Streams is an annual $7,600 enrollment fee the district must make to the International Baccalaureate Organization and an estimated annual cost of $3,000 a year for three years of additional training for teachers.
There would be no additional transportation costs for the school district. The district pays for a two-and-a-half hour block in the morning for the buses to run.
PYP students from the Baker and districts would continue taking their neighborhood bus to the schools and then hopping on a second bus to get to Streams. Dr. Claire Miller, principal of Streams, said all students arrive to school on time with the method. At the end of the day, students would continue to only take one bus home.
"My concern is to preserve the neighborhood school concept. We do want to maintain the Streams neighborhood as much as we can," said Louis Oliverio, school board member.
O'Toole said Streams students would first be chosen to be in PYP and if students don't want to be in PYP, they would go to Baker, which is only one mile away.
Baker Elementary is 1.04 miles and two minutes away from Streams Elementary, according to MapQuest.
It was asked during Monday's meeting if it was possible to make the PYP and traditional program available at all three elementary schools. Administrators said it would not be feasible because the district would have to pay separate dues for each school and the IBO would not authorize it.
Board member Amy Billerbeck said some parents have asked her if somehow the district is losing control of its curriculum to the IBO.
Miller said that is not the case.
"The IBO gives us the framework and the language," she said. "We merry the themes with the existing curriculum."
Dr. Judith Bulazo, director of literacy, assessment and professional development, added that PYP students must take the same assessments as all other students and must meet the same state standards.
If the board votes not to convert Streams into an all-IB school and therefore eliminates the PYP program, there would be too many students at Eisenhower Elementary and administrators would have to re-district the elementary schools.
If the board adopts the recommendation, the district will plan informational meetings for parents.
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