Superintendent Yvonne Brandon is proposing to expand Richmond Public Schools' middle years International Baccalaureate program at Lucille Brown Middle School at more than double the cost for the city's two IB programs, which cost roughly $214,000, bringing the total to about $484,000. Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones has proposed adding $500,000 in the next budget to bolster the city's IB programs.
In comparison, Hanover County's IB program, currently available at four high schools, will cost about $186,000 next year, according to Hanover's director of secondary education, Bob Staley. He touts the IB program's affordability as well as its success in helping place students at top-tier universities. "We really don't spend a whole lot of money on this," he says, adding, "The results speak for themselves."
Hanover's program, according to numbers reported by the district to the Virginia Department of Education, awards about 55 IB diplomas each year. By comparison, Richmond's program graduated nine in 2011 and had graduated five during the previous three years of the program.
Lucille Brown's IB program has capacity for 225 students, or 75 in each grade. The proposed expansion would make IB classes available to all students zoned to Brown as well as to about 100 students from around the city in each grade level who are accepted into the full IB program.
Hanover currently has more than 400 students in IB classes, and because IB-trained teachers teach more than just IB classes, odds are good in Hanover that students never taking an IB class will still have IB teachers. There are 15 to 18 IB teachers in each of Hanover's four schools.
"They teach all kids," Staley says. "They may have a block or two or three of IB classes, but ... I don't know that we have anybody who teaches just IB."
That's not the case in Richmond, according to the superintendent's proposed budget, in which teacher salaries inflate the total IB cost to $2.1 million. RPS spokesperson Felicia Cosby says some, but not all, IB teachers also teach regular classes, but under Brandon's budget, the program's 25 teachers cost just shy of $2 million and teach fewer than 500 students. Last year's Richmond IB senior class was 17 students, according to RPS' report to the state.