Education

East High IB program no longer accepting out-of-district applicants

Syed Shamiun, right, and Vivian Pham take part in an International Baccalaureate course at Wichita East High School in February.
Syed Shamiun, right, and Vivian Pham take part in an International Baccalaureate course at Wichita East High School in February. The Wichita Eagle

The renowned International Baccalaureate program at Wichita East High School is no longer accepting students from outside the district, officials said.

Administrators said they made the change because the switch to block grant education funding means Wichita no longer receives funds to support students from neighboring school districts who enroll in special programs.

“As with anything, we want to make sure that our resources are allocated in the most appropriate manner,” said Bill Faflick, assistant superintendent of high schools. “And with block funding as it is, we’re saving the dollars that are given to us for students that live within the boundaries of the district.”

We’re saving the dollars that are given to us for students that live within the boundaries of the district.

Bill Faflick, assistant superintendent for high schools

Faflick said the decision not to accept out-of-district students into East High’s IB program was made after the application process for next school year had begun. The competitive process includes teacher recommendations, a test and interviews and usually begins in December.

Six students who applied for the program this year and who live outside the Wichita school district boundaries “are receiving the ‘Sorry, we didn’t have a spot for you’ letter,” Faflick said.

He said program coordinator Steve Shook called those families “and assured them that as much as we’d like to have kids in the program, we are only taking kids that live in the Wichita public schools (district),” he said.

“It costs money to educate kids, and when the funding came along with it, that’s wonderful,” Faflick said. “But when the funding disappears and we’re bringing in new folks that cost money, we’re actually taking away from our own kids.”

Faflick said about 15 of the 130 students accepted each year into East High’s IB program – a little more than 10 percent – have records that indicate they did not attend a Wichita public middle school. They include students from private or parochial schools, home schools or from outside the Wichita district.

In March 2015, state lawmakers overhauled the way schools are funded in Kansas, replacing the state’s 23-year-old school funding formula with flexible block grants. Districts’ budgets for next school year are based on the number of students enrolled this year.

Students currently in the IB program at East – including those who live outside district boundaries – are being allowed to complete the program. Children of USD 259 employees also may apply.

Younger siblings of current or former students, however, are not exempt from the new rule.

An IB program at Campus High School in the Haysville district still is accepting out-of-district students despite the funding switch, officials said Monday.

“As far as we are concerned for the IB program, we will consider applicants with good grades, attendance and behavior,” said Liz Hames, spokeswoman for the Haysville district.

Campus High launched its IB program in 2013. Of the 52 juniors and seniors enrolled in the program this school year, 10 live outside the Haysville district, Hames said.

This fall, officials expect 59 sophomores to move into the Campus High IB program as juniors. Nearly a fourth are from outside the district, she said.

“We have found these to be excellent students and an asset to our district,” Hames said.

Generally considered to be among the most challenging of high school curricula, the IB program was designed after World War II for the children of diplomats who sought an internationally recognized diploma that would command respect around the world.

Only schools authorized by the International Baccalaureate organization in Geneva, Switzerland, may offer the IB curriculum and allow their students to sit for IB examinations in hopes of earning an IB diploma.

Students follow a prescribed course of study in six disciplines, sit for exams in each discipline and fulfill additional requirements such as community service and an extended essay.

Suzanne Perez Tobias: 316-268-6567, @suzannetobias

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