MPS considers International Baccalaureate Program

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Montgomery Public Schools are considering whether to join the International Baccalaureate program,  it's one of the most rigorous curriculums a public school can offer.  Only seven systems in the state, including Auburn, offer IB programs in schools.

"IB is a prestigious program, that everyone would agree is a wonderful program, that doesn't take anything away from the existing programs, but it just adds to the quality we already have," said Superintendent Barbara Thompson.

The superintendent is floating of the idea of housing the program at four schools in the system: a primary program at MacMillan International Academy, a middle program at Johnnie Carr Middle School, and the high school or diploma program at the new Lanier complex and the new East Side high school.

That caused a fierce debate between board members and the superintendent.  The board members were under the impression that the new school would open with an IB program in place.

"I thought the goal was to open the school with that program and that's why we're talking about it now," said Charlotte Meadows, the school board president. " I've feel like I've been misleading the public."

Thompson explain that the IB program only looks at existing schools, and the process takes two or three years.

"You can't start it before a school is built, and you can't start it before a school has staff," Thompson said.

Meadows was also concerned about what it would mean for the successful Advanced Placement program at LAMP.  One student who attended the meeting echoed those concerns.

"I think it could benefit Montgomery and the public school system that we have," said Brandon Hooks, a Senior at LAMP.  "I think we should take it at a slower rate and maybe not a huge conglomeration of schools at one facility."

Board members also expressed concerns about the money needed to even apply for the program.  The system would have to spend anywhere from $5,000-$10,000 for a site visit from IB officials, another $9,000 for training, along with an $8,000 application fee.

Thompson says the system has funds through existing allocations to go through with the process, if the board approves.  She also said she would present the formal proposal for the new Lanier complex later this month.

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