Mountain View Prep gains IB accreditation

A four-year application process for Mountain View Preparatory has culminated in the school earning its International Baccalaureate accreditation.

Principal Stephanie Jones said there was a desire for this type of curriculum in the community back in 2010 when Superintendent Barbara U'Ren and other district officials began looking into IB.

"What's nice about IB is that you're given a foundation to work from," she said. "It is a ton of work to meet the requirements."

Since opening in 2011-12 with one class each for kindergarten through sixth grades, the school has grown to about 440 students. There are 342 students who didn't get into MVP this academic year and are queued on a wait list for the coming school year.

"I could only take half of my kinders on the waiting list because we're full," she said.

The IB philosophy asks students to "take responsibility for their learning" through inquiry.

"Students are seen as competent and listened to," Jones said. "We encourage them to ask questions, to be curious and to explore."

Teachers write curriculum to tie into the different areas of a child's school day, from P.E. to math. Students are given a series of choices to make while completing any given project, so no two finished products are alike.

"It's not for everybody," Jones said. "That's a lot on children and we teach it at a very young age, so they have to be really willing to take that on."

COCSD business manager David Snyder said the district has paid about $32,500 in IB application and program fees. Money comes from the Fund 515, which is fed by revenues from district building rentals.

"We pay IB fees out of this fund so that other COCSD programs are not affected by the cost of IB," Snyder said.

He said now that MVP is authorized, the yearly cost for the primary years program will decrease from $9,500 to $7,300 starting next fiscal year.

The school can't pursue a middle years program without offering Spanish every day of the week. As of now, students start taking Spanish in kindergarten, but only two days a week.

Staff would be needed for technology, art and Spanish.

"There are certain classes that have to be taught and because of the finances of the state of Arizona, it's very difficult for the district to give me funds to hire more teachers," Jones said.

Teachers are continuing to write the curriculum units to be as closely aligned with IB as possible, just as Mingus Union High School has done with its English and humanities pathway.

"You're not going to have the integrity of the program if you don't go through the process," Jones said. "You make it look as much as possible like an IB program."

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