San Diego

Parents Upset When Elementary School Downsizes Bilingual Program in Chula Vista

An elementary school in Chula Vista faces backlash over plans to downsize its Spanish language immersion program.

Feaster Charter Elementary has a dual immersion program for a group of students within the school that consists of a 50/50 model. The program offers students half of their lessons in Spanish and half in English for kindergarten through fifth grade.

For the past five years, the program has remained in tact. But starting next year, students in fourth and fifth grade will get 80 minutes of Spanish a day, compared to the three hours promised at the start of the six-year program.

Anna Cabral, mother of two, is leading the effort to gather signatures for a petition in support of the bilingual program.

"Parents have not been made aware. They're given a flyer that says, here it is. This is how it's going to be," Cabral said. 

Stephanie Dominguez, the school's principal of Visual and Performing Arts, told NBC 7 that class sizes and budget constraints forced the change in the program. She says this move will protect the longevity of the entire program.

"Feaster remains committed to ensuring its students receive rigorous instruction in both English and Spanish to better prepare them to become bi-literate global citizens," said Dominguez.

Not all students at Feaster elementary are taking the program. The change impacts only 80 students who are part of the Dual Immersion program.

"At the end of the day when we go to sleep, it's going to be my childrens' education. It'll be their academic credentials on the line, and this is a binational, bilingual community," said Cabral. "And we need this education for the future of our kids."

Feaster elementary serves more than 1,200 students in Transitional Kindergarten through eighth grade, according to the principal.

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