Public showing support for IB | AspenTimes.com

Public showing support for IB

John Colson

Aspen, CO ColoradoASPEN “It might have been only, like, 30 families, but it could have been hundreds if we needed to keep going,” Aspen Education founder Kris Ferguson said of parents who donated money to find out whether an advanced academic instructional program would be a good fit in the Aspen schools.Actually, it was 47 families, Ferguson said after counting the donations on a computerized list, donations she said ranged from $5 to $6,500.The money, which totaled $35,000, will help a special Aspen School District task force study the possible expansion of the International Baccalaureate curriculum – currently only for high school juniors and seniors – into the middle and elementary schools.Superintendent Diana Sirko’s previous job was in a Colorado Springs school district where elementary and middle schools also teach IB courses. Sirko and the public schools principals approached the AEF last summer, Ferguson recalled, to inquire about help raising money.The task force is looking into what are known as the Primary and Middle Years programs. The International Baccalaureate Organization, a supplemental educational system with headquarters in Switzerland, developed the programs.The money is to send members of a task force to Colorado schools that offer Primary Years Program and Middle Years Program courses, and to conferences that discuss the programs.Ferguson said that while she was once on the AEF board, she had resigned recently but is still active in its work. So when the AEF board determined “they couldn’t raise the money themselves,” she said, it turned to her.She started making calls and within a short time, she said, “we reached our goal [of $35,000], so we stopped.”The donations came from “just a lot of interested people … there’s a lot of support” for looking into the programs, she said. She explained that the majority of the donations were in lower dollar amounts, with only two checks in the thousands of dollars. The average donation was approximately $745.And, she continued, “If they go ahead with this [expanding the IB curriculum into the lower grades], we can go back to people” to raise more money if it is needed.The nonprofit Aspen Education Fund, under normal circumstances, raises money that is used for a variety of educational purposes, as selected by the AEF board of directors.This money, however, was “earmarked specifically … to the exploration of the [Primary/Middle Years] programs,” school board member Charla Belinski said Tuesday from her Snowmass Village home.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com

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