Two-Way Immersion program expanding |

Two-Way Immersion program expanding

Sara Thompson / Tahoe Daily Tribune
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune

The Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board unanimously approved another Two-Way Immersion kindergarten class for the 2009-10 school year.

This is the second year of the program, which is designed to teach students to become fluent in Spanish and English.

At a previous board meeting, parents requested the addition of a second class because more than 40 families were interested in the program. A class consists of 20 students.

Tuesday’s decision came down just in time for parents to race over to the program’s lottery at Bijou Community School to see if their kindergartners made it into the two classes. The lottery was scheduled the same night as the board meeting.

Because the program receives more applicants than available spaces, the district conducts a lottery to determine enrollment.

One kindergarten class consists of 10 students from English-speaking families and 10 from Spanish-speaking families.

All 20 of the English-speaking families present got in, and 20 of the 28 Spanish-speaking families present had their children enrolled, said Kathy Haven, the parent who spearheaded the program.

Parents presented the school board a signed letter, which stated they pledged to do whatever fundraising was necessary to add a second kindergarten class.

The additional class won’t cost the district extra money because it’s a wash, Superintendent Jim Tarwater said. Instead of a kindergarten class going into another elementary school, it would go to Bijou instead, he added.

Because the program is growing, Tarwater said the board needs to monitor the demand and make sure the facilities are in place to accommodate the potential growth.

“Right now, that’s the piece we have to watch,” Tarwater said.

Bijou Community School was scheduled to receive six new classrooms within two years, but because some state funding is frozen, it’s uncertain when those classrooms could be completed, Tarwater said.

Board President Wendy David said the board will make future program decisions as more information on the building status becomes available, and more classes may be added.

Board member Sue Novasel said she thinks every elementary school should be a magnet school so parents have a choice on their children’s education emphasis. Bijou and the Lake Tahoe Environmental Magnet School are good examples, she said.

“It’s good because it’s inviting more parents to come to our school district,” Novasel said.

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