Dual Language Plan Raises Firestorm of Division in Encinitas

Classrooms with two languages are opposed in some areas, but highly sought after in others

Some Encinitas parents are upset about a plan to divide their schools to accomodate for a seperate dual immersion program.

Currently, parents can opt into the dual immersion program. A new cost-cutting measure proposes combining the two classes with the different languages at one school, and keeping the other school English-only.

However school officials say the parents are angry prematurely.

The Encinitas Union School District superintendent says nothing has been decided about consolidating the English only and Spanish immersion programs at Capri Elementary and Paul Ecke Central Elementary schools.

At other schools, dual immersion classes are highly sought after. Last month, parents camped out at Eastlake Elementary School to secure a spot for their children in the school.

Yet in Encinitas, the idea is already dividing the community, as many are upset that students already enrolled in the highly competitive dual immersion program would have to change schools.

"This isn't about English or Spanish -- our students speak English and Spanish," said parent Gina Crozier.

It's about the school she chose to send her child to, she said.

"We moved into a house here so our child could go school here," Crozier said. "I have two children and one already went though Capri so that they could go to their neighborhood school."

But Superintendent Tim Baird said it's more about money.

"This year the state took away 3 million dollars from us," Baird said. "Next year it could be as high as 5.4 million dollars. So everything gets looked at through the budget lens."

Specifically, the plan would consolidate two smaller dual language immersion programs at Capri Elementary and Paul Ecke Central school. Capri would become all dual immersion where students would learn in Spanish and English. Paul Ecke would be for English learners only.

Transitioning the dual immersion program at one school would be a gradual move, Baird said. It would begin with kindergarten and then phase in the rest over seven years.

"Their children would remain at the school," Baird said. "We're not talking about a switch out of students all having to leave Capri and new students coming in."

However, despite the plan's early stages, many hope they won't ever have to see it enacted.

"It really isn't about the language," said Encinitas parent Tammy Glenn. "What we love about our school will be different."

Glenn said she and other parents have worked hard to build the diverse community at the schools. All the effort and funds devoted to buidling the programs will be disassembled if the program moves to one school, she said.

The school board met with parents Wednesday night at Ecke Central School. They hope to meet next week and send home surveys about the idea. But at this point, the schools are nowhere near making a decision, Baird said.

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