Share This Page

North Hills School Board considers international online courses

| Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

North Hills School Board members have been asked to consider offering online International Baccalaureate, or IB, courses.

At the Jan. 9 board meeting, Assistant Superintendent Johannah Vanatta proposed piloting an IB course offering next year that would enable incoming juniors to enroll in prestigious, but rigorous, two-year online courses not otherwise available at North Hills High School.

The classes are highly regarded and catch the attention of college recruiters, Superintendent Patrick Mannarino said.

“I'm not sure why we wouldn't want to do this for our students,” Mannarino told the board at the meeting.

For the district to offer the classes, the school board must approve an affiliation agreement with the International Baccalaureate organization by Feb. 6.

IB classes are offered through International Baccalaureate, a foundation based in Geneva, Switzerland, that offers programs and courses with global perspectives.

North Hills administrators are proposing to adopt only courses, rather than an entire program, so enrolled students would not be qualified for an IB diploma.

The district would offer four classes — “Philosophy,” “Business Management,” “Information Technology in a Global Society” and “higher-level” mathematics, Vanatta said.

She said the district would be charged $1,300 per class per year for each student enrolled. Parents of students who fail or withdraw from the courses would be expected to repay the district, she said.

Currently only 24 students in the district would qualify for IB courses, and, Vanatta said, she does not anticipate that all of them would be interested.

She estimated that offering the courses would cost the district $10,000 next year at most.

“We don't know how many students will be interested in these,” she said.

Vanatta said the cost to the district per student is less than Advanced Placement courses, which require teacher training and test fees, or College in High School classes, which have institutional tuition fees.

Representatives from the mathematics, social studies and art departments also presented curriculum requests to the board Jan. 9.

Teacher Steve Hoza of the social-studies department said a decision on new textbooks is on hold because administrators are exploring whether it would make more financial sense to invest in digital books and tablets for students rather than traditional books.

“If there's another means of accessing textbooks that isn't $65,000 per course for bound paper, we need to be looking at that,” Mannarino said.

He said North Hills will not move to tablets next year, but administrators eventually would like to move toward that technology if it is more cost-efficient.

Department representatives announced plans to rewrite curricula for seventh- and eighth-grade math, local history courses, and K-12 art and music classes.

District officials also plan to offer high school students a College in High School course in psychology next year in conjunction with La Roche College.

Math teacher Kim Wroblewski said her department would like to introduce two remedial classes to the curriculum for students struggling to meet Keystone Exam standards.

Kelsey Shea is a staff writer at Trib Total Media. Reach her at kshea@tribweb.com or at 724-772-6353.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.