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Survey: High interest in Spanish immersion at MGES

Article Date: 
22 March, 2013 (All day)

Survey results are in, and the people of Morgan County prefer a Spanish dual immersion program at Mountain Green Elementary School.  However, Morgan County School Board officials are hesitant to give the program the green light.
Trina Wilkinson and Shana Croft tabulated surveys measuring interest in the program said they were surprised by the wide margin Spanish won out over other languages.  Ninety percent of surveys listed Spanish as their first or second choice for language.
Wilkinson and Croft also said more Mountain Green residents were interested in a dual immersion program compared to those with children attending Morgan Elementary School.  Transportation to and from the school offering the immersion program seemed to be the biggest concern of parents expressing interest.  Transportation issues were a bigger concern than what language would be offered.
They recommended using a lottery process to choose students for the program.  Students with a parent whose native language is Spanish would get two lottery tickets, increasing their chances of being chosen for the program.  School officials said there would likely be about 55 slots starting in kindergarten when the program is first offered.
Croft said students who speak Spanish in the home are likely to help other students succeed in the school immersion program.  The plan is that kindergarteners in the program the first year would continue to have immersion classes as they progress through the fifth grade.  By the fifth grade, many of the students would be considered fluent in Spanish.  
As a result of the immersion program in elementary school, the middle and high schools would have to start offering higher levels of Spanish, Superintendent Ken Adams said.
Mountain Green Principal Tom McFarland said it would be good to encourage immersion students to try learning a third language in middle and high school.
Croft and Wilkinson said they researched the immersion programs that recently began in South Summit and Kamas.
School Board President Bruce Galbraith said the survey results are “invaluable.”
Adams said implementing a dual immersion program is “not a matter of if, but when.” 
“We are all exuberant about it being implemented in the district, but we will have to see,” Adams said.  He also said the voted leeway would be a “key factor” in the decision of when to implement dual immersion.
“We are 100 percent in support of dual immersion, but we need to find the funds,” Galbraith said.  “Between the state legislature, leeway and being short funding, we feel we need to hold off on a decision.  We are just so concerned about the future.”
Business Administrator D’Lynn Poll said the district would need money for textbooks used in the immersion program.