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The Spanish Immersion Advisory Committee brought recommendations for improvement to the school board.

Hire a program coordinator, decide on a permanent location, prioritize native and heritage learners — these are just some of the recommendations the Spanish Immersion Program Advisory Committee brought to the Lake Oswego School Board at the Monday, May 10, meeting.

After six months of meeting, the committee — made up of parents, teachers and administrators — brought eight recommendations to the board on how to advance the program, which was formed in the 2010-11 school year with one first grade class. In 2013, the board voted to move the entry grade to kindergarten. The pioneer class of Spanish immersion students are now sophomores in high school. Throughout its 11-year history in the district, the program has never had a permanent location.

The committee was formed to research current best practices in dual language education, review goals and practices and create recommendations to the superintendent for refining the program.

The eight recommendations are: hire a Spanish immersion coordinator; provide funding to support program articulation; prioritize native and heritage learners in the program lottery; provide professional development for staff; allocate funding for ongoing staff collaboration; advocate for the program at the school, district and community levels; develop a plan to expand the program and provide a permanent location within two years; and define clear programmatic expectations by grade level.

Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Schiele and other members of the committee shared the thinking behind each recommendation at the May 10 meeting.

"We recognize that we haven't had someone to coordinate this program, so it's been piecemealed together between the principal and district staff," Schiele said. "And the district has not done a good job in this. I feel as far as resources go, we've kind of caught up a little bit but … they were creating everything they did every day on their own and it's a lot to ask our teachers."

Board member John Wallin asked if the committee had a recommendation on where the permanent location for the program should be. A few members chimed in that they don't have a specific location in mind, but their desire is for stability so that the program can grow.

Before landing on these recommendations the committee sent out surveys to students, teachers and parents. From these the committee learned families need more communication on the program's goals and their children's progress, while teachers need to feel valued and supported and a coordinator is needed to guide program development.

The survey takeaways guided the committee's recommendations.

Superintendent Lora de la Cruz thanked the committee for its recommendations.

"I do support the recommendations and I would also like Dr. (Jennifer) Schiele and staff to evaluate the recommendations including budget," she said.

She said she'd like a future board meeting to include a district recommendation on a location for the program.

Wallin said with the program approaching its adolescence, it's past time for it to expand.

"Last year when Dr. Schiele and I were talking about next steps and needs for the Spanish Immersion program, we knew that the only way we were really going to get to the root of what's needed and solid recommendations was to bring these incredible stakeholders together," de la Cruz said.


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