Don’t drop the ball

Published 9:28 pm Thursday, July 18, 2013

Suffolk Public Schools’ second year of offering the International Baccalaureate program has returned some promising results, hinting at a bright future for it.

As reported Thursday, 14 of 20 IB students received IB diplomas, and those that didn’t only missed it by one point, the school district reports.

IB at King’s Fork High School is one of two magnet programs for advanced students the district offers, the other one being Project Lead The Way at Nansemond River High School.


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And SPS appears set to introduce another advanced program, this time at Lakeland High School: a health and medical sciences academy.

Meanwhile, besides advanced placement classes, students are also able to take dual-enrollment with Paul D. Camp Community College, getting a head start on their peers.

Amid all this upbeat news, something else is underway at the school district that in my opinion is even more laudable: A mostly internal committee is examining alternative programs in the hopes of redesigning them to be more effective.

As we all know, the district’s ability to raise the required funds to operate its various functions is not unlimited. That means it needs to spend its money wisely, with a steady focus on fixing whatever problems are at hand.

That two out of city’s three public high schools are accredited with warning because of poor math results is a problem for the school district and all of its partners in Suffolk, including all citizens.

Another problem is one SPS has acknowledged by forming this aforementioned committee — that students who aren’t making it in the traditional classroom setting, for whatever reason, aren’t getting the best deal.

SPS has several alternative programs, not just Turlington Woods School, and the committee apparently is looking at them all. A lot of folks are eager to see the results, hopeful that whatever it comes up with isn’t business as usual.

The issue of schools missing full accreditation has more in common with alternative programs needing work than programs serving the best and brightest. Getting more students who experience difficulties back functioning in mainstream classrooms, along with improving foundational knowledge by bolstering elementary school instruction, should be priorities.

It’s great that SPS can point to achievements like the IB program, and Suffolk citizens should be proud. But they shouldn’t be so bedazzled that solutions to the real issues fade from sight.