Portables at River Grove Elementary School or a magnet school at Bryant Elementary School are two options on the table for implementing Spanish and Mandarin language immersion beyond kindergarten next fall. The two options were presented to the Lake Oswego School Board Monday night.
Referring to the River Grove option as 'alpha,' school district officials said that installing four portables is one way to keep from interfering with the task of closing two of its other elementary schools. The option would be short term for now, but if it is successful the district could then decide whether to establish the program as a magnet program or implement it at several sites.
The administration indicated that River Grove has the most field space of all elementary schools, and the alpha option would not impact playground areas or parking. The document proposal says that paying for portables would be affordable.
A second option, called 'beta,' would site a magnet school at Bryant Elementary School, which is slated to be partly repurposed next year as part of the Waluga Junior High School campus. A disadvantage is that not all of the site would be available to the immersion program, so if it grew it would eventually run out of space. Additionally, students would not be a part of a typical elementary school experience.
Superintendent Bill Korach indicated in the document that both the alpha and beta options will require work on program design for grades one through five. During that process, the district may also want to reconsider Community School offerings, which include before and after school programs in both Spanish and Mandarin for elementary students, as well as its current preschool and kindergarten immersion programs.
If it commits to an immersion program, the district expects it will need a policy on out-of-district families seeking admission to the program also.
Of course, there is a third option, referred to as 'omega,' which would wait until after schools are shuttered this fall to pursue development of a language immersion program in the 2013-2014 school year.
'The obvious downside of delaying the development of a second language immersion program is that some of our students would miss the opportunity to be involved in such a program if it could be accomplished for 2012-13,' the document reads.
The district would also miss being a part of a wave of new immersion programs unrolling the carpets this fall. The Portland Public School Board approved Le Monde French Immersion Public Charter School in December as the first French immersion public charter school in Portland. Portland Public Schools already offer elementary students immersion programs in Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese and Russian.
For the 2012-2013 school year, Le Monde French Immersion Public Charter School, which will operate in Portland's Hillsdale neighborhood across from Gabriel Park, will have two kindergarten and two first grade classes. Applications are being accepted for all Oregon students through Jan. 20 for first grade and Feb. 10 for kindergarten.
This week, West-Linn Wilsonville School District also moved toward a sustainable immersion program by committing to K-5 Spanish immersion at its two new elementary schools, Trillium Creek Primary School in West Linn and Lowrie Primary School in Wilsonville. The district will begin with kindergartens and add one grade each year through fifth grade.
West Linn-Wilsonville School Board suspended a dual language immersion program in 2009 due to budget shortfalls but voted to reinstate it using funding from a 2008 capitol bond.
At Trillium Creek Primary School on Rosemont Road in West Linn, the class would be taught mostly in Spanish to native English speakers, while Lowrie's class would be a 50-50 model meant to simultaneously improve the English of native Spanish-speaking students, as well.
The West Linn-Wilsonville proposal also includes an intention to implement a 'world language program' in all elementary grades beginning with the two new schools this fall and then expanding to all nine schools over the next few years.