Much-loved IB program at Weldon under scrutiny; board to reassess in 2021

By Roderick Benns

Much-loved IB program at Weldon under scrutiny; board to reasses in 2021

The much-loved International Baccalaureate (IB) program at I.E. Weldon Secondary School is under increased scrutiny by the local school board because of cost-cutting.

Superintendent of Learning Katherine MacIver shared information with trustees from a recent review of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program offered at IE Weldon Secondary School in Lindsay.

What is IB?

Students entering Grade 9 at Weldon can choose to take a “power pack” program in Grade 9 and 10, which prepares students to participate in the IB program for Grades 11 and 12. The IB certificate is recognized by universities around the world and can even replace some university credits.

Weldon is one of only a few hundred schools across Canada to offer the coveted program. Well over 300 students participate in the program.

Parent Sharon Robbins, whose son Nathan Robbins went through Weldon’s IB program, says she was “shocked” to hear the board was even considering any move to use the IB program for cost cutting. Her son is currently a third-year engineering student at Montreal’s McGill University.

“The preparation that it gave my son in order to go on to McGill was astonishing,” she tells the Advocate.

“He made the leap to university fluidly, his love of learning was established, and his ability to study in depth and to think critically was established.”

The Costs

However, as outlined in the board’s press release, many of the expenditures for the IB program are not funded and the costs to the school board “need to be reduced.”

Several options have been explored and will be implemented for the 2020-2021 school year “to see if costs can be brought in line with current budget limitations,” according to the board.

TLDSB pays fees to the International Baccalaureate Organization for mandatory training expenses and to be registered as an authorized IB program provider. Currently students in the program pay between $500 to $1,500 for Grade 11 and 12, depending on the number of IB courses they choose to take.

There are also IB exam fees. As part of the cost recovery program being implemented by the board, the fees will increase by $350 per year per student per year for Grades 11 and 12, making the total cost to participate in the IB program between $750 and $2,200.

However, those fees are waived for students whose families cannot pay, making it an equity issue, too. If a student from a lower income household is able to take the IB program then that student has a better chance for greater social mobility – a chance to rise above his or her family’s circumstances.

“I would argue it’s the opposite of privileged,” says Robbins.

The board notes that with the proposed adjustments in place for the 2020-2021 school year, “TLDSB will be able to continue to offer the IB program…”

“The IB program…will be reassessed in the spring of 2021.”

Robbins says the IB program can save a lot of money for students and their families, too, since the courses are recognized by so many university programs.

Anywhere from one university course to an entire first year of university can be avoided – including the tuition fees and housing costs.

“That saves a lot of money and time,” Robbins says.

If you support Weldon’s IB program and want to see it continue, call Superintendent of Learning Katherine MacIver at the board office at 705-324-6776 or 1-888-526-5552 ext. 22146. Or email

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