North Van school district to seek IB status for Norgate

The North Vancouver School District is moving ahead with a plan to make Norgate Elementary an International Baccalaureate school.

School trustees voted last week  to apply to the International Baccalaureate organization to bring an IB program to Norgate.

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If approved, Norgate would be the third school to adopt the program in the district.

The program, which emphasizes collaborative problem solving and global citizenship, is already in place at Capilano and Queen Mary elementary schools, where it has been popular with families.

Capilano Elementary is now so full with 444 students enrolled the school doesn’t accept students from outside its catchment area, while neighbouring Norgate operates at about 53 per cent capacity, with 136 students.

That’s in part what recently prompted the school district to change school catchment boundaries this year, removing an area west of Capilano Road and north of Marine Drive from the Capilano catchment and placing it into the Norgate catchment.

Educators hope an IB program at Norgate will be equally popular and draw students – some of whom currently bus out of Norgate to attend other schools - back to the neighbourhood school.

Parents of students who already attend Norgate have also been enthusiastic about a switch to IB, said district principal Kathleen Barter.

“We have a very excited community,” said Barter.

Many parents who live in the area have an IB education themselves, said Barter and assistant superintendent Chris Atkinson.

A number of those parents came to the school board meeting Tuesday to show their support for an IB program.

Stephanie Aldridge said she was warned about Norgate prior to enrolling her kids there. “We know Norgate has a stigma,” she said. “I was warned this was a rough school . . .”

But Aldridge said when she went to visit in person, she found the school warm and welcoming.

“Having strong community schools is key,” she said. “I want our school to be a magnet school.”

Switching Norgate to an IB school will come with costs. Because IB schools do not allow split grade classrooms, the school district will have to budget $100,000 for an addition class and classroom teacher. The school district will also have to pay for expenses including approximately $20,000 a year for International Baccalaureate teacher training, and between $50,000 and $30,000 a year for an IB co-ordinator. The total to put the program in place for the 2020-2021 school year will be about $200,000.

In future years, the school district would also have to pay for two additional teachers, including a second language teacher, to meet IB requirements. Staff estimate that will cost an additional $200,000.


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