Editors Note: Corrections to this article were made at 11:15 a.m.
Due to ever-increasing demand for the Spanish immersion program at Adelante School, the Redwood City School District (RCSD) Board of Education Wednesday night announced a plan for expanding the program by adding a "satellite school" at Selby Lane School in Atherton.
The decision came on the heels of others made recently to address overcrowding on the Adelante campus.
Months of discussion has taken place on how to deal with overcrowding at Adelante, which is a magnet school within the district's Schools of Choice program.
Currently, enrollment puts the campus at 21 students over capacity, which many parents and school officials say creates a safety hazard both on and off campus during pick-up and drop-off times, in the hallways and on neighboring streets.
Potential solutions that were discussed included limiting kindergarten enrollment in the program, moving Adelante's sixth-graders to Kennedy Middle School, and creating a satellite school.
Currently there are around 60 children on the waiting list to attend Adelante, according to RCSD officials.
Recently, after a specially-appointed Expansion Committee made its recommendations to the board and RCSD Superintendent Jan Christensen, the Board announced that, beginning in the fall for 2013-14, sixth-graders in the program will attend school on the Kennedy Middle School campus.
Then, this week, the Board voted to approve the satellite location at Selby Lane, in order to address the ever-increasing demand for Spanish immersion and to try and reduce the size of the program's long wait list.
"The program will begin with two kindergarten classes [at Selby Lane], and then will add subsequent grades each year. It will eventually go to fifth grade," said Naomi Hunter, RCSD's director of communications. "Sixth- through eighth-grade students will attend the Spanish immersion program at Kennedy Middle School, along with students matriculating from Adelante."
Hunter said, Selby Lane School will continue to offer its existing K-8 academic program, and Selby Lane Principal McDonald and Asst. Principal Sedar will be the administrators. Parents of students in the new Spanish immersion program at Selby Lane "will be encouraged to fully participate in the Selby Lane community, including the PTA and English Language Advisory Council (ELAC)," she said.
She explained, "Adelante Principal Linda Montes will support the Spanish immersion program's start-up, and will work with the immersion teachers at Selby Lane to ensure that the curriculum and program are the same as that offered at Adelante. The Spanish immersion teachers at Selby Lane will collaborate with the Adelante staff."
Hunter said, of the 60 children currently on Adelante's wait list, they will be offered the first spots for the first two kindergarten classes at the Selby Lane site for next year. She also said that, though the deadline to apply to RCSD's Schools of Choice for next year has passed, the district will still accept applications for the Spanish immersion program for a while, and will continue to enroll children until all program spots are full. A new waiting list will then be started.
RCSD officials say the demand for the district's Spanish immersion program has continued to increase with each passing school year.
"In a district-wide survey taken last spring, more than 400 respondents chose it as their top program choice; more respondents named Spanish Immersion as their top program choice than any other program," Hunter told Patch. "Adelante has had long waiting lists every year."
Hunter said, months of research and discussion went into these two decisions.
"After extensive work and analysis, the committee recommended to the superintendent that the district open a second Spanish language immersion program that grows to a K-5, feeding into Kennedy at sixth grade," she explained. "The district began the process of evaluating potential sites where a satellite immersion program could be located. After an extensive audit of schools with available space, Selby Lane was identified as a potential site."
RCSD Trustee Shelly Masur, who served on the Expansion Committee, said, the decisions were not a simple one by any means, but that she thinks everyone involved thought it to be the wisest choice.
"I am thrilled to be able to expand our Schools of Choice offerings with additional dual Spanish immersion classrooms," she said. "As the parent of three kids who attended Adelante, I see the value of this unique opportunity every day. By making it possible for children to be bilingual and biliterate, we are working toward our our goal of preparing every child for success."
PATCH WANTS TO KNOW - What do you think of the decision the Redwood City School District made for dealing with overcrowding at Adelante and the rapidly growing demand for the immersion program? Do you have a child this decision will affect? Tell us in the comments below.
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