By Tom Hartwell
Chapel Hill-Carrboro school officials brought proposed changes to Spanish-English dual language back to the literal drawing-board Tuesday night to discuss how to expand the program.
Frank Porter Graham Elementary faces a possible transformation into a magnet school for the Spanish-English program, but board members showed interest in two other possibilities: making Carrboro Elementary that magnet school, or offering the program at four separate schools and opening the program to all families in the district.
A final vote on how to expand the program may be pushed back from a June 7 target, while staffers respond to board members’ questions about the two alternate proposals to changing FPG.
The one thing everyone seemed certain about—parents, board members, teachers and school administrators—was that the dual language program is more successful than traditional ESL and merits being expanded.
Large crowds have filled previous meetings at Town Hall with vociferous public reaction to dual language proposals, and Tuesday’s special work-session meeting was held at the Smith Middle School auditorium to help accommodate a crowd. About 100 people came.
Tuesday night, all options were on the table, including doing nothing. The pros and cons of making no change to Spanish-English education were considered, along with several magnet school proposals, expansion to future elementary schools, and turning the district offices at Lincoln Center into a school.
Cost and practical concerns allowed the board to eliminate all but three options: an FPG magnet school, a magnet school at Carrboro Elementary, and an expanding program at four elementary schools.
Spanish-English dual language instruction is currently offered at only three elementary schools, and enrollment is closed to children outside those school zones. Most board members said they wanted all children to have access to the program.
Look for more on this story later today on our websites at chapelhillnews.com and newsobserver.com.