FLOYD COUNTY — The New Albany-Floyd County Schools board has taken action to replace the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Floyd Central High School.
The NAFCS board voted 4-3 Monday to remove the IB program at Floyd Central in the 2024-25 school year. The program will be replaced with the Advanced Placement Capstone program, and juniors and seniors at Floyd Central will be able to complete their IB diploma.
Floyd Central began offering the IB diploma track in 2013, and it is the only school in Southern Indiana to offer the program. The IB program is a curriculum for high school juniors and seniors involving high-level courses, hours of community service, an extensive research paper and other requirements.
The AP Capstone diploma requires students to earn a score of 3 or higher on four AP courses of any subject area, as well as a 3 or higher on the yearlong AP Seminar and AP Research courses during their junior and senior years.
For those who voted in favor of removing IB at Floyd Central, the lack of growth in the program was among the reasons mentioned. The recommendation to replace the program came from the school board instead of the NAFCS administration.
Board members Lee Ann Wiseheart, Jenny Higbie, Donna Corbett and Elizabeth Galligan voted to replace the IB program, while members Elaine Murphy, Joe Brown and Rebecca Gardenour voted against the replacement.
Wiseheart said the conversation about whether to continue with the IB track has been ongoing for multiple years. She said the program has not “been growing where it needs to be to financially support it,” and she feels the board has the fiduciary responsibility to take action.
She also discussed the timing of the board’s recommendation to replace the program.
“The reason it’s coming on the agenda now is that the former superintendent delayed and would not have it on here and because there’s time sensitivity to adjust and make sure kids can adjust their schedule if there’s a change,” Wiseheart said.
The board action followed many public comments from students and parents urging the board to keep the IB program in place. Floyd Central junior Reid Coleman, an IB student, is among those who spoke out in favor of the program, and he said he is disappointed in the board’s decision.
“I think that the people for the elimination didn’t have the best arguments and the best evidence to back it up,” he said. “I know they spent years talking about it, but I think they should have more consideration about adding both the AP Capstone and IB program.”
Murphy, the NAFCS board president, said she sees great value in the program, and she feels it’s “a service we can offer that other schools do not offer.”
“I think that it serves our students well, and I support that program 100%,” she said. “I personally would hate to see it go away.”
Higbie, the NAFCS board vice president, believes replacing IB with the AP Capstone will provide a “more inclusive” program for students. She said she has talked to multiple families who have faced difficulty in balancing extracurriculars with the IB schedule, and the AP Capstone makes it easier to reach students pursuing STEM.
“I have done my homework,” she said. “We have been talking about this literally for years…we want what’s best for kids,” she said.
Higbie’s son graduated last year from New Albany High School with an AP Capstone diploma, and her daughter is also pursuing the program. She said her family “found it to be exceptional.” The AP program is focused on research, critical thinking, discussion and collaboration, she noted.
Floyd Central Principal Rob Willman said he has been involved in the IB program since it began, and he is “very much in favor of it.”
The dues for the IB program are $11,650 versus $1,250 for the AP Capstone. However, NAFCS Chief Financial Officer Chris Street said the most relevant cost consideration regarding IB program is more of an “opportunity cost,” since a teacher could teach another course if they were not teaching IB. He said he personally wouldn’t recommend cutting the IB program.