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DLI Preferences, Costs Discussed at Monday Board Meeting

Anthony Pollreisz, K2 Radio

District officials discussed preferences and costs associated with a proposed dual-language immersion curriculum for Natrona County students at the Natrona County School District’s regular board of trustees meeting Monday night.

If the voluntary curriculum were to be adopted, parents would have the option to opt their kindergartner or possibly first grader into the program. The child would then spend half of his or her school day learning in either Mandarin Chinese or Spanish.

Mark Mathern, the district’s associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction, says, according to a recent survey conducted by his office of nearly 100 interested parents, there’s significant demand for the curriculum.

“There was a higher interest for Spanish than there was Chinese, but, in either case, there’s an interest to start using dual-language immersion as an educational approach,” Mathern said.

Officials also discussed initial and long-term costs of the curriculum Monday night. Mathern says, in its first year, the curriculum would cost the district roughly $52,000. However, costs could escalate to over $349,000 in the curriculum’s fifth year.

Mathern says some board members find the financial figures concerning.

“We have a $175 million budget, so, indeed, every dollar counts, because that means some programs will take precedent over other programs,” Mathern said.

Officials at Fort Caspar Academy, Paradise Valley Elementary and Park Elementary have expressed interest in housing the curriculum in its pilot stage.

The next board of trustees meeting is set for March 8 at the school district’s central services building.

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