Holmes High School to End International Baccalaureate Program

An elite academic program offered at Holmes High School in Covington since 1983 will end after the next school year. Holmes principal Dennis Maines confirmed rumors originally sent by community members to The River City News.

"Basically, in Kentucky as part of site-based councils, one of the required policies we have to have in place is called college level courses," Maines said. "As we are updating our policy, this one came as one we needed to desperately update." The IB program now competes with other college-level academic offerings at Covington Independent Public Schools, including Advanced Placement (AP) courses and two partnerships with Gateway Community & Technical College, the Regional Academy and career & technical training.

"Years ago, IB was a very booming program here at Holmes but over the years when more and more opportunities presented themselves, students chose not to go the IB route, so what has happened is fewer students have decided that they want to do the full IB program," Maines said.

The principal, one the job since 2008, said that he has to make sure his resources are used to the best advantages for the entire student body. "What it's doing to me is making uneven distribution of students in terms of core areas," Maines said. "A math teacher may have thirty students in a classroom, but a class down the hall may only have six." 
"It's difficult to maintain something when it has such a big impact on the entire student body."
According to its website, the International Baccalaureate program, "works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment. These programs encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right."
At Holmes, students earned an IB diploma, a program described by the international organization as preparing students for success in higher education and life in a global society. The intense academic coursework culminates in end-of-the-year tests. Students were admitted into the program based on test scores.
Students currently enrolled in the program at Holmes will have the opportunity to complete it, including those students that are currently in their junior year. After the 2013-14 school year, the program will cease to exist at Holmes. No new students will be admitted to the program in its final year. The school's site-based decision making council is expected to adopt the decision on January 29 where the move will have its second reading.
"This isn't anything personal against IB. If I could offer it, I'd love to keep it," Maines said. "When you look at it from a resource perspective, I have to weigh all the resources."
"Decisions are not easy. You just have to look at the pros and cons and balance of resources, and when I look at this, it's a program of less than twenty and overall affects the entire school."
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News
Photo: Entrance to Holmes High School/RCN file