Friday, January 11, 2013

Trustees ready to pick Dual Immersion plan

Two remaining options could reduce program enrollment

Express Staff Writer

The Blaine County School District has been studying and evaluating options for about two years for its Dual Immersion Program. Now, the district board of trustees is ready to vote on one of two remaining options, either of which could reduce elementary school enrollment in the program by about 12 percent.

A decision on the program, in which students are instructed in both English and Spanish, is scheduled for the school board’s monthly meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 15. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. and will be held at the district office at 118 W. Bullion St. in Hailey.

Under one option, Dual Immersion programs at Bellevue, Hailey and Woodside elementary schools would be consolidated into one program at Woodside Elementary School, which would then be referred to as a Dual Immersion magnet school. Under the other option, each of the district’s four elementary schools would retain a single “strand” of Dual Immersion students.

Hemingway Elementary School would have a single strand regardless of the option selected.

A strand refers to a group of students who start in Dual Immersion classes as kindergarteners and progress together through both elementary and secondary school.

Some elementary schools in the district now have two Dual Immersion strands. Either option, unless new classrooms are built, would reduce the total number of Dual Immersion elementary students from its present level of just over 600 to 528.

District officials have stated that the only way the program could be retained at its present level is if new classrooms are built at a Woodside elementary Dual Immersion magnet school.

Other options, such as leaving the program as is or building a new Dual Immersion-only elementary school, were earlier eliminated by the board of trustees. Officials have stated previously that the program’s biggest problem is finding enough bilingual teachers as more kindergartners are added to the program.

Terry Smith:

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