IB failure at NorKam ‘death blow’?
A failure to get NorKam secondary’s planned International Baccalaureate program off the ground could be a death blow to the North Shore high school, according to the head of the Kamloops-Thompson school district.
“The projections for enrolment at NorKam are not good,” SD73 superintendent Terry Sullivan told KTW.
“Over the last number of years, we closed a number of schools on the North Shore. In that sense, this program is absolutely critical to us.”
The school district planned to start an International Baccalaureate program — known as IB — at NorKam beginning next fall.
However, finalization of the program is being delayed by an apparent reluctance to train teachers for IB on the part of the Kamloops-Thompson Teachers’ Association.
According to Sullivan, the KTTA contacted SD73 officials on Sunday to say the union wanted to meet today (Jan. 31) to discuss the issue further.
In response, the school board made a request yesterday with the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association to have an application filed with the Labour Relations Board, which would order NorKam IB teachers to undergo training, despite any potential union objections.
“We can’t make that order ourselves as a district,” Sullivan said.
“We have to do it through that means.
“So, we made that request [Monday]. We attached some urgency to it.”
Sullivan said 45 students enrolled in NorKam’s IB program, believing it would begin next fall.
Of those, 10 were not previously NorKam students.
On Monday, Sullivan said, two of them pulled out of NorKam and returned to their catchment schools.
“What we feared would happen is now starting to happen,” he said.
“It’s getting to be too late.”
According to Sullivan, one of the main factors behind NorKam being chosen as SD73’s IB location was the recent “enrolment struggles” in North Kamloops.
“One of the reasons we wanted to start that program at NorKam is because we had 500 kids from the North Shore attending south shore schools,” he said.
“We wanted to try to reverse that a little bit and that’s exactly what I think we were seeing.”
IB programs are governed by a Swiss-based organization called International Baccalaureate and are offered at schools around the world.
Sullivan said there are currently none in the Interior of B.C.
“It certainly would be a major accomplishment for NorKam and for the school district,” he said.
“The IB program is highly respected all over the world. It means that a student enrolled in that program can pretty much gain acceptance to any university in North America.”
NorKam’s planned two-year program would see students begin IB studies in Grade 11.
Teachers are required to receive specialized IB training in order to teach the curriculum.
IB programs are offered at more than 300 schools across Canada.
Sullivan said SD73 is now waiting to hear back from either the Labour Relations Board or the KTTA to determine the next step in the future of NorKam’s IB program.
Repeated attempts by KTW to contact KTTA president Jason Karpuk were unsuccessful.