The consolidation of the Dublin City Schools International Baccalaureate program at the district's Emerald Campus will result in improved opportunity for high school students as well as $500,000 in savings, according to school officials.

The program is similar to Advanced Placement courses, in that students can tackle the more challenging courses during their high school career and take an exam for the opportunity to earn college credit, said Craig Heath, the district's director of secondary education.

Heath said juniors and seniors may take courses in six areas: Language (English), Second Language, Individuals and Societies (a social studies program of sorts), Experimental Sciences, Mathematics and the Arts and Elective English.

If they take classes in all six areas, they can earn an International Baccalaureate diploma. They still are eligible to earn college credit if they take individual courses.

International Baccalaureate classes are taught at Dublin Scioto, Dublin Coffman and Dublin Jerome high schools, Heath said. Starting next year, the courses will be taught only at the Emerald Campus facility, 5175 Emerald Parkway.

Heath described the move as advantageous for a variety of reasons.

From an academic standpoint, the consolidation will help teachers connect content areas more than they've done in the past, Heath said.

Students also will have the opportunity to interact with other IB students in other classes.

"So now all of those things will be together and (students will) be able to collaborate a lot more," Heath said.

The consolidation also means more classes might be offered because the classes will include student enrollment from all three high schools rather than each one individually, Heath said.

Typically, 10 to 12 students are enough to have a class, he said.

The move also will enable year one and year two classes in each subject to be offered individually instead of combined, Heath said.

The consolidation also offers cost savings.

The district has paid about $100,000 annually to the International Baccalaureate sanctioning organization to offer its classes at each high school.

Starting next school year, the district will only have to pay one site fee for the Emerald Campus -- a cost savings of about $66,000, Heath said.

The district will save money in professional development of its teaching staff as well.

About 50 teachers teach IB courses, and the IB organization requires those teachers to go through training every couple of years to learn new content and teaching methods, Heath said.

With the program's move to the Emerald Campus next school year, the district can reducing the program's teachers by about six, Heath said.

Those teachers won't be laid off; they will continue to teach high school courses at their home high school buildings.

But the lowered number of teachers in the IB program will reduce the cost of teacher training, saving the district about $20,000, Heath said.

Those several teachers that no longer will teach IB courses will make it possible for the district to avoid hiring more teachers at Coffman, Jerome and Scioto to account for increasing enrollment, Heath said.

The salary savings, coupled with the aforementioned cost savings, means consolidating the program would result in a total savings of about $500,000, Heath said.

Moving IB classes to the Emerald Campus also has an operations benefit, Heath said.

The space saved in the three high schools equates to about four or five classrooms at each school, which can host other subjects and could ease crowding before the urgent need for building additions.

"This will help us out in the meantime, before those additions are built," he said.

The IB program is one of the most rigorous academic programs offered at the district's high school level, said Todd Hoadley, Dublin's superintendent.

Consolidation gives like-minded students the opportunity to make friends and form new peer groups, he said.

Additionally, Hoadley said, the move helps reinforce that the district's high schools do not operate independently as separate entities, but are instead unified within one school district.

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