Spanish Immersion proposals concern parentsSome parents worry that their children will be uprooted from their neighborhood elementary school to accommodate a growing Spanish Immersion program.
By: Judy Spooner, South Washington County Bulletin
Kim Neuman of Cottage Grove enrolled her seven-year-old son in Woodbury Elementary School because she thought the special education classes there would be best for him.
But Neuman is very concerned her son might be sent to another school if the District 833 School Board decides to move Woodbury Elementary’s 480 students to other schools to make way for a freestanding Spanish language Immersion school.
Neuman said school board members did not consider the effect of changing schools, and possibly teachers, on special education students. “They didn’t think about those kids,” she said. “What’s going to happen to them? This is so upsetting.”
Establishing a school solely for Spanish Immersion students is among three choices given to the board at the Nov. 4 workshop meeting from a task force to study whether the program should be expanded from three classes at each grade from kindergarten to fifth-grade to five classes beginning with kindergarten next year.
The schools under consideration for a freestanding immersion program include Woodbury, Royal Oaks, Crestview and Armstrong elementary schools.
Other choices include leaving Spanish Immersion, or Nuevas Fronteras, as it is at Crestview Elementary School in Cottage Grove where it shares the space with students in traditional school for kindergarten through fifth-grade or splitting expanded immersion classes between Crestview and Bailey elementary schools.
The school board will take public comment on the proposal Nov. 23 at Woodbury High School and Nov. 30 at Park High School.
The immersion program is not for students already fluent in Spanish. The classes are taught in Spanish for children whose parents want them to be bilingual.
Dave Bernhardson, assistant superintendent for elementary education, and Mike Vogel, assistant to the superintendent for operations, said the cost of a stand-alone school would be the same as the cost of keeping the school at Crestview. Splitting the program between two schools would cost nearly twice as much due to duplicate administration and curriculum costs.
Parents of children at the four schools being considered for a free-standing program, something many parents of immersion students have proposed in the past, have heard about the task force recommendations this past week through parent organizations, phone calls and e-mails.
Jennifer Hays, mother of five, has three children who attend Woodbury Elementary School.
“There’s so many issues here,” she said. “The biggest issue is whether there is a true demand for more immersion classes. They want to uproot a whole school? I don’t want this to happen to any school, not just Woodbury elementary.”
See the upcoming print edition of the South Washington County Bulletin for the complete story.