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Supporters, critics of Spanish Immersion program state their case at hearing

At the Nov. 23 meeting before the District 833 School Board at Woodbury High School, parents opposing the closing of either Armstrong, Royal Oaks, Woodbury or Crestview elementary schools dominated the number of speakers in opposition.

The issue is a recommendation, among three from a task force, that would "repurpose" one of the schools to be a Spanish Immersion-only school with traditional school students moved to other schools.

At the Tuesday, Nov. 30 at Park High School, Spanish Immersion supporters were first in line to sign up and dominated the number of speakers in support of expansion.

Though there were pleas for civility, the two groups expressed their differences in opinion on the issue. Parents concerned with the possible Spanish Immersion expansion want to preserve their neighborhood schools and keep the immersion program as it is. Many Spanish Immersion supporters want expansion and a separate school.

Supporters on both sides clapped, hooted and whistled after one of their own spoke in spite of a caution by School Board Chair Leslee Boyd that it would slow the meeting down and limit the number of speakers.

A third option to split the program, which currently shares a facility with a traditional school at Crestview in Cottage Grove, between Bailey Elementary School in Woodbury and Crestview at nearly double the cost, had no supporting speakers.

The opposing groups have one point in common: the task force process was flawed and didn't include parents, many said.

There should be a long-term plan, including immersion in middle and high school, SI expansion supporters said.

Parents of traditional school students, many of whom are not opposed to expansion, want more options on the table that do not include vacating a school.

The board meets in a workshop session at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2 to discuss the testimony. No public comments will be allowed.

SI program supporters asked for parents from "both sides to help find a peaceful, collaborative resolution," but are backing expansion.

Chi Zako, Crestview parent, said students are told to study hard and do their homework. The board didn't do their homework, she said.

Board members should take a "time out" and keep the SI program as it is and appoint another task force, "a real one" to deal with expansion, Zako said

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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