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NCSD Trustees Postpone Dual-Immersion Expansion Vote

Anthony Pollreisz, K2 Radio

Trustees with the Natrona County School District on Monday postponed a scheduled vote that would have expanded the popular dual-language immersion program at Paradise Valley Elementary School in Casper.

Trustees postponed the vote after several unsuccessful attempts to add all-inclusive language to the recommendation composed by Steve Hopkins, the superintendent of Natrona County Schools.

As it was written, Monday’s recommendation would have only extended the kindergarten Mandarin program at Paradise Valley to both kindergarten and first grade. Trustees, however, wanted a recommendation that was all-encompassing.

Trustees attempted to add district-wide expansion language to the recommendation that would have tackled issues regarding faculty consensus at new district schools considering DLI. Trustees also wanted to add language regarding the budget and enrollment standards for the program.

Trustee Audrey Cotherman says, ultimately, Monday’s recommendation needed to better approach the issue of student equity.

“There are several other parents that would like their children in that program, and we only have one program now,” Cotherman said. “You can’t do that – you can’t offer to just a certain segment of kids. You have to make it available to other children.”

Board chairperson Rita Walsh reiterates that there’s significant support among the board to continue the program not just at Paradise Valley, but district wide.

“I have two trustees who will pen a new motion while working with the superintendent, and we’ll bring it back to the board on Nov. 25,” Walsh said.

Mark Mathern, the district’s superintendent of curriculum and instruction, told trustees that there’s parent interest in adding a Spanish immersion program at Park Elementary. District officials say they’ll gauge Spanish immersion interest again once the board gives its approval to expand DLI.

Trustees passed the pilot immersion program for Paradise Valley in April. The program has since been praised by parents and Gov. Matt Mead.

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