Weldon’s International Baccalaureate program benefits from structural changes

By Kirk Winter

Weldon's International Baccalaureate program benefits from structural changes
Erin Matthew, IB coordinator at I.E. Weldon. Photo: Erin Burrell.

Superintendent of Schools for Trillium Lakelands District School Board, Katherine MacIver, told trustees that structural changes made to the International Baccalaureate (IB) program offered at I.E. Weldon have helped to make the respected enrichment program financially viable.

“We need to make sure that this program pays for itself,” MacIver said. “With an increase in average class size to 23 and significantly decreased costs for teacher training because teacher development is all being done virtually, we are hopeful.”

“This is great news,” said Stephen Binstock, trustee. “We always need to be broadening the scope of options for students. This program is another arrow in our quiver.”

Cost-cutting by the province had been pushing TLDSB to consider dropping the IB program, one of the educational edges Lindsay and area has.

The IB is a standardized program run by a non-profit association in Switzerland. It’s offered in 5,263 schools in 158 countries. Weldon’s IB program — one of only 186 diploma granting IB schools in Canada, or 5.5 per cent of schools — has run since 2003. Students can enroll in the full course load or choose to take individual IB credits.

As the Advocate reported last year, the IB program doesn’t just offer benefits to students; it benefits the community in ways that never get discussed at the board and community level. The Globe and Mail looked at areas in Toronto that have an IB school: “Widely perceived as a private school perk, academically elite IB programs are increasingly on offer through the public system, and houses in neighbourhoods with IB schools already in place are reaping the benefits.” In other words the IB program increases property values in Lindsay and the surrounding area.

There is also anecdotal evidence that some business-owners, professionals and doctors have chosen Lindsay because of the existence of the IB program. And of course there is the benefit that is derived from the IB students who return to the area after their post-secondary endeavours. Research shows that IB students have significantly higher rates of university achievement and graduation rates.

“This is a gold star program,” added Haliburton trustee Gary Brohman. “It takes real dedication to run a program like this.”

Trustee Judy Saunders added that after visiting the school, “you couldn’t but be enthused about the program.”

Saunders wanted to know the costs that parents were required to pay to have their child in the program. She was told by McIvor that the fee was $1,100 if the student was doing the full diploma, of which $350 covers mandatory educational courses for IB teaching staff.

–with files from Trevor Hutchinson.

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