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Expansion not planned for Spanish Immersion

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Cottage Grove, 55016
Cottage Grove Minnesota 7584 80th Street South 55016

Expanding the number of classes at each grade level in the Spanish Immersion language program is not in School District 833's future plans.

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Nuevas Fronteras, a school within a school being housed at Crestview Elementary School in Cottage Grove, will continue with current plans to add three classes in 2008-2009 and three more in 2009-2010.

At that point, the program will mature with three classes at each grade level in kindergarten through fifth-grade.

The School Board discussed plans for Crestview during a joint meeting with Cottage Grove officials May 8.

Parents of Nuevas Fronteras students, three months ago, asked the board to expand the program to five classes at each grade level. They also asked for the program to be moved to another school, citing overcrowding at Crestview.

The program is not for Spanish-speaking students, but children who want to be bilingual.

The only expansion of the program, which was included in a report to the board on the future of world language programs by Mary Ryerse, district curriculum director, is to offer limited Spanish immersion classes in middle school when the first students arrive in 2010.

Classes could be offered at one or two middle schools, depending on the availability of qualified Spanish-speaking teachers who are also licensed to teach other subjects.

The intent is to offer classes in Spanish for immersion students, but whether they will be offered at one middle school or two has not been determined, said Superintendent Tom Nelson.

To address Nuevas Fronteras parent concerns, the district is considering giving some students the option of going to Hillside Elementary School a year early, Nelson said.

In the approved plan to change elementary school attendance boundaries in 2009-2010, students in two neighborhoods west of 80th Street in Cottage Grove, now attending Crestview, will move to Hillside Elementary School.

"What if they won't go?" asked Denise Kapler, school board member.

"We have room," Nelson said.

The district has several "choice programs," Nelson said, with more applicants than there is room for.

"We're going to see more pressure to add world languages," he said, adding Spanish Immersion "is a great program."

Mike Vogel, assistant to the superintendent for operations, said Crestview has a stable population of students in traditional classes that is not projected to grow and could decline slightly.

The building will be "as full it will get" next year, but at least two additional classrooms would become available the following year when sixth-graders move to middle school.

An option to add portable classrooms on the Crestview site was discussed and rejected, Nelson said.

Judy Spooner can be reached at editor@swcbulletin.com.

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