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833 officials will discuss future of spanish immersion school

The District 833 School Board agreed to meet in a workshop session Wednesday, March 10, to discuss expanding Nuevas Fronteras, a Spanish Immersion program at Crestview Elementary School for grades kindergarten through five.

The decision was made after the March 4 board workshop.

At the board's Feb. 18 meeting, the room was filled with parents asking that the program be expanded from three to five kindergarten classes.

There were only 18 slots for next fall's kindergarten classes, parents said, because siblings of current students get preference.

A lottery is held every year to determine which students will be selected.

Administrators have been discussing the proposal. In an interview on March 4 before the school board meeting Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Instruction Dave Bernhardson said one option for consideration is the addition of two additional sections of kindergarten to be housed at Grey Cloud Elementary School for the 2010-11 school year while expansion plans are formulated. There is no additional classroom space available at Crestview Elementary, where the program is housed. The other option is to maintain the current number of kindergarten sections at three and review the potential for expansion for the 2011-12 school year.

Bernhardson, who was the program director at the time the immersion program started, said there were $565,000 in federal grants to start and grow the program through fifth-grade.

He said the number of new students, beyond siblings, admitted to the program has not varied much in the past three years.

At the school board meeting, Board Member Jim Gelbmann said the board "owes" the parents a workshop discussion. The program is highly successful and should be expanded, he said.

Superintendent Mark Porter said he is "reluctant" to hold a workshop. "There's only one audience," he said.

Board Member Tracy Brunnette favors holding a workshop but feels "rushed."

Board Chair Leslee Boyd said it's the board's fault, and not the parents', for not looking at expansion earlier.

Board Member Ron Kath said he is not "minimizing" the concern about expansion. However, the board would have many more meetings than it does now if it held workshops on every issue.

"I'm a little upset because this was not on the agenda tonight," Kath said. "I don't want to re-boundary."

Board Member Marsha Adou said she would not want to "displace people from Crestview."

If you go:

A workshop meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday March 10 in the District 833 School Board Room at the District Service Center.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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