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Sanderlin aims for IB status

Sanderlin Elementary School is close to being designated a "primary years" International Baccalaureate school, a label that signifies that its curriculum promotes global thinking.

The school is in the final phase of the application process. A three-person delegation from the International Baccalaureate Organization visited the school in late September to evaluate its ability to deliver the program in accordance with IBO regulations.

"I have every confidence that the end result, sometime in January or February, whenever we get the word, we will be authorized, but that's because we've spent a lot of time. We know those standards; we know those requirements," said principal Denise Miller.

If approved, Sanderlin will have the county's first primary years program.

The district also is poised to apply for a grant that would pay for a second primary years program at Sandy Lane Elementary in Clearwater. The grant, worth more than $7-million, also would establish Kings Highway Elementary as a center for medical science and wellness and Kennedy Middle School as having a "middle years" IB program. Those schools are also in Clearwater.

The district is waiting on the U.S. Department of Education to solicit requests for the Magnet School Assistance Program grants, said Charlie Eubanks, director of special projects for Pinellas County schools.

"We've worked hard to let people know this is by no means a done deal, not to count on it, but if we get it, we want to be able to hit the ground running," Eubanks said.

There are seven fully authorized "primary years" programs in Florida, and eight schools under consideration.

Carrollwood Day School in Tampa is the only one on Florida's west coast.

Sanderlin officials expect to learn if they've gained final authorization after the first of the year.

The IB philosophy promotes deep reflection on processes and systems in order to make improvements. Miller said obtaining the designation would only be the beginning.

"It's always a process in motion," Miller said. "Just because we become authorized doesn't mean it stops there."