District accepts revised English Learner plan | TahoeDailyTribune.com

District accepts revised English Learner plan

After months of debate and a Wednesday night school board meeting that pushed into Thursday morning, a new English-learner plan has been approved.

The plan, titled the Master Plan for English Learners, had been revised by the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District to add a waiver process for English Learner students wishing to leave their current English-based classes. The revised plan also had the express purpose of creating an alternative program for students if 20 or more waivers were granted.

The adopted plan will now require students to try English-speaking courses before they are allowed to enroll in the district’s English Learner-specific courses.

Throughout the eight-plus hour meeting that started Wednesday night, many from the Hispanic community and representatives from the English Learner Advisory Committee and the District’s English Leaner Advisory Committee voiced their concerns about the district’s lack of collaboration and communication to create the plan.

“The district does not respect the rights of the parents,” said Maria Herrera, president of both DELAC and Truckee Elementary’s ELAC. Herrera said she and many others with children in the school district feel their opinions are not being represented in the plan.

One of main objections was that it was not translated into Spanish for the Latino community, which represents the district’s English Learner majority. Dave Curry, the district’s director of educational services, responded to the concern saying the document was in the process of being translated, and would have been earlier, if resources allowed.

Ultimately, despite many concerns expressed by both the board, parents and ELAC representatives, the plan was adopted, not as a final plan, but as the district published on its website: “as a living document to address the continuously changing needs of students and as a guide for program implementation, improvement, and decision making.”

Nicole Sayegh, the District’s English learner program coordinator who helped write the plan, said that she understands the parents concerns and hopes they will be participate more as the plan develops.

“I’m glad that we have a foundation piece from which to start from,” Sayegh said. “It gives us all a common document to evaluate what’s working and what’s not working.”

Superintendent Stephen Jennings was equally optimistic about the evolution of the plan as more EL parents participate in its refinement.

“I think its obvious we have a lot of communication issues to work on. And I really appreciate [the parent’s] passion and their desires,” said Jennings. “I think we’re heading in the right direction.”

Approval of a balanced budget was the other piece of big news that night.

After many cut backs and financial woes over the past year, the school board was able to approve a balanced budget for 2010 to 2011. The board reported its $6,559,537 budget will see no significant cuts and that they will also estimate balanced budgets into 2011 and 2012.

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