Hall County Schools plans to offer its International Baccalaureate diploma program to out-of-district students.
The Hall Board of Education voted Monday night on the measure, which would allow out-of-district students to pay an annual tuition of $1,500 to be in the program, offered now at West Hall, Johnson and North Hall high schools.
“We think that would easily cover our costs,” Superintendent Will Schofield said. “The nice thing about International Baccalaureate is there is a clean beginning date and a clean end date.
“We know we will have them for two years. We know we have empty seats, and so, all of our costs for that program are fixed.”
The program is only for upcoming juniors who also “have to have the right academic background.”
Hall County students will have until June 4 to apply for the program. Once that date passes, the program will be open to students outside the district.
“They can come from anywhere in Georgia,” Schofield said. “I don’t think they’d want to commute from Tennessee, but we would welcome them.”
Sally Krisel, Hall County Schools’ director of innovation and advanced programs, “is now determining how many of those seats are available,” the superintendent said.
According to the West Hall IB website, the IB curriculum “is a complete program of academics and service that helps students to become lifelong learners, risk-takers, and caring individuals who are often admitted into the best universities in America and even in the world.”
For their $1,500, tuition students would have “access to an incredible program,” Schofield said. “It has done absolutely what we had hoped it would do. We have touted it as the most powerful high school preparation program on the planet.”
The IB program at West Hall is bilingual.
“There is only one other in Georgia that we know of (like that), and that is at the Atlanta International School,” Schofield said. “We just think that bilingual diploma ... has an awful lot of appeal to perhaps students in the metro (Atlanta) area that may be interested in coming this way.”
Schofield has said the school system has some 1,000 empty seats spread out among the 33 schools.
The last time out-of-district students took classes in Hall County was in the early 1990s. Between eight and 10 students, mostly former Hall residents, paid tuition in Hall County.
“This is a very small way for us to dabble with out-of-district enrollment,” Schofield said. “We think this will be the wave of the future. In these challenging economic times, as we develop programs, the more choices the better.”
School board Chairman Nath Morris said the school system needs to consider ways of getting the word out about the new offering.
“I think it’s a great program,” he said.