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International Baccalaureate Program At Rainier Beach H.S. Gets Funded For The Next 3 Years

Kyle Stokes
An I.B. classtoom in session at Rainier Beach High School in South Seattle.



A program credited with lifting the graduation rate and boosting student enrollment at Seattle’s Rainier Beach High School was going to be cut because of a lack of money.  But now, it’s being saved, thanks to a Seattle non-profit.


The International Baccalaureate program, which is comprised of advanced academic classes originally designed for the children of diplomats, is being rescued by The Alliance For Education. The Alliance is giving Rainier Beach $50,000 each year, for the next three years to keep the I.B. program going.


Sara Morris, the president of The Alliance For Education, believes Rainier Beach is the most important school in the district because it stands for so many things.


“For equity, for opportunity, for excellence. It’s had its struggles and I think it’s showing itself as a shining light,” said Morris.


According to the Seattle School District, the reason why Rainier Beach got the money and not the I.B. programs at Chief Sealth and Ingram High Schools, is because Rainier Beach is the most vulnerable out of the three, due to its small size.


“Resources are allocated based on enrollment. Larger schools have a little bit more flexibility, not much, a little bit more, thus making it a little bit easier for the larger sized schools to fund exceptional programs that Rainier Beach simply doesn’t have because of its size,” said Assistant Superintendent,  Steve Nielsen.


As far as a long term plan to fund the district’s three I.B. programs, Nielsen said the district doesn’t have the money and will pursue help from other non profits and grants.


“In the absence of our legislature getting their act together, what do we do and how do we make sure we don’t compromise our values in education to fit a budget,” said Colin Pierce, who oversees the I.B. program at Rainier, “And I don’t envy the folks who are making budget decisions because it is a hard one to make. But ultimately, we either let our budget lead or we let our mission lead and I don’t know that we always make the right choice in that regard.”  

Meanwhile, to make I.B. accessible to all of its students, Rainier Beach added a half an hour to the day and a seventh period. The annual cost for this is more than $700,000. A federal grant is paying for it and that grant will run out in a year.

Jennifer Wing is a former KNKX reporter and producer who worked on the show Sound Effect and Transmission podcast.