The Board voted Monday night to convert to an all-International Baccalaureate school in a phase-in approach.
The vote was 7-1. Board member Harry Kunselman voted against the recommendation because of budget uncertainties.
"It's premature at best to adopt the resolution given our current (financial) situation," he said. "It ties our hands too much."
More than 100 residents attended the four-hour meeting that took place in the 's LGI room.
Many of the residents who spoke at the meeting said they were against keeping the IB program in the school district. Some said they thought the program should only be available in private schools and didn't think taxpayers should have to pay for it. Others said they didn't like how IB, and the Primary Years Program in particular, divided the students and community.
According to , converting Streams into all IB will cost the district a $7,600 annual IBO enrollment fee, a $3,000 annual training fee, a $1,800 site visit from the IBO this year and $873 for summer workshop time this year.
O'Toole has said he doesn't anticipate any additional transportation costs because the bus drivers are paid for a two-and-a-half hour block of time in the mornings.
Board member Amy Billerbeck said all programs offered in the school have a cost attached to them—including AP, vocational and special education programs.
Board member Angela Petersen pointed out it will cost the district $2,000 to train one teacher as the high school changes its current honors physics course to AP physics B—a move that was also approved by the board Monday night.
Some residents said they were disappointed no survey was issued as O'Toole had suggested at an .
"Our decision was to use the enrollment data as the most accurate data that we have," O'Toole said.
About half of Streams students were enrolled in the PYP in the 2007-08 school year. This school year, 80 percent of students are enrolled in the PYP, with another 5 percent on the waiting list.
O'Toole said in the one traditional first grade classroom at Streams, nine of 18 kids are on the PYP waiting list. Of the 19 kids in the second grade traditional classroom, seven are on the PYP waiting list, he said.
The Streams conversion to all IB will take place during the next three years so students already at the school won't have to switch.
First and second graders in the traditional program will move to in the 2012-13 school year. Traditional third graders will move out and kindergarten will switch to the PYP program in the 2013-14 school year. Fourth graders will move in the 2014-15 school year.
"In keeping align with our strategic plan I support the superintendent's recommendation," said Barbara Bolas, vice president of the school board. "It gives choice to parents to what kind of education parents want their children to have in Upper St. Clair."
If the board had voted against making Streams all IB, the PYP would have been eliminated from the district.
Some board members Monday night said the district needed to do a better job communicating with the citizens.
"I'm dismayed by the anger and sudden outburst of anger because of the misinformation that is out there," Petersen said.
School board member Frank Kerber asked administrators to make sure teachers could articulate the difference between the IB and traditional programs to parents.
Earlier in the meeting, the board approved the formation of an ad-hoc communications committee that will be made up of board members, staff and community members. Contact the district at 412-833-1600 if you are interested in serving on the committee.
Do agree with the board's decision to make Streams Elementary an all-IB school? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments.