debbie fisher

Debbie Fisher, assistant superintendent at Albany County School District No. 1, discussed possible ways to expand Laramie’s dual-language immersion program at a February town hall meeting at Indian Paintbrush Elementary.

By DANIEL BENDTSEN In the fall, Albany County School District No. 1 superintendent Jubal Yennie was hoping to establish a long-term plan by March on how to expand the district’s dual-language immersion program through 5th grade. However, the school board is expected to delay a decision that was originally scheduled for Wednesday. “I believe that we need to be satisfied with the two pilot programs before we create additional programs at other schools,” Yennie wrote in a memo to board members. “Further, I believe that we need to follow through with the students who are currently in the DLI program for the next few years, so we can understand the rate of attrition and student academic performance. … Even though the DLI teachers expressed a concern that they want a decision this month, I still need additional information in order to make a recommendation, and I will circle back with our DLI teachers to explain the reason for my delay.” Currently, the district offers dual-language immersion to students in grades K-2 at Indian Paintbrush and Spring Creek elementary schools. In ACSD No. 1’s current dual-language immersion program, students learn in English for half the school day, and Spanish for the other half. Other large school districts in the state also offer Spanish-based dual-language immersion programs in an attempt to make students bilingual. Casper schools also offer Mandarin-based dual-language immersion. About 19 percent of ACSD No. 1 students in grades K-2 are enrolled in the dual-language immersion program. Because of space limitations at Indian Paintbrush and Spring Creek elementary schools, administrators had felt it might be necessary to expand the program to other schools if dual-language immersion classes are offered for 3rd, 4th and 5th-graders. Yennie is now recommending that the dual-language immersion program stay only at Indian Paintbrush and Spring Creek for the immediate future. Some school board members have indicated they’d like to have the program expanded to target more students at a greater variety of schools. “My concern continues to be that we’re creating a special opportunity for students that kids can take advantage of only if they have hip parents,” school board member Nate Martin said during a March 6 meeting. Currently, all participation in the program is voluntary. Parents can elect to have their children entered into a lottery that selects which students get in. For the 2018-2019 school year, all students who entered into the lottery were able to get into the program. While a expanded program might be ideal, Yennie said that, after consulting other administrators in Wyoming, it would be more prudent to expand slowly. “What I found, even that throughout the state, is that people who start these models prove these things out before they expand it,” he said. “I want to get the two schools that we have right now proved out. I want us to be able to demonstrate that we can do a two-track or one-track model.” In a two-track model, students have a separate teacher for their English and Spanish portions of instruction. That model is the one preferred by the district’s current dual-language immersion teachers. However, Yennie has indicated that Indian Paintbrush and Spring Creek don’t have the space to handle two-track classes through 5th grade. Yennie’s now hoping to have the school board adopt a long-range plan at its April meeting, when there will be more complete data about kindergarten registration and attrition of students currently enrolled in dual-language immersion. With a fall enrollment of 325 students, ACSD No. 1’s current kindergarten class is the smallest it’s been since 2008. Last week, Yennie said that the 3rd grade dual-language immersion class planned for next year is unlikely to have the same enrollment numbers as this year’s 2nd grade class. “We know there’s a handful of students that are not coming back for 3rd grade and lot of that is because they’re moving,” he said. As the district adds dual-language immersion to new grades, new Spanish-based teachers have been hired as other teachers have left the district. Jubal said he expects that process to continue. “It will not happen that people will lose their job. I’m pretty convinced that that will not happen,” Yennie said. “But I can’t guarantee that everyone will still be teaching at the same grade level and school that they’re current doing, but that certainly is my desire.” To gauge community attitudes toward the future of the dual-language immersion program, ACSD No. 1 hosted a town hall meeting on the subject in February at Indian Paintbrush. Dozens of parents came to the town hall meeting, and a survey that was send out to parents garnered about 200 responses.

In the fall, Albany County School District No. 1 superintendent Jubal Yennie was hoping to establish a long-term plan by March on how to expand the district’s dual-language immersion program through 5th grade.

However, the school board is expected to delay a decision that was originally scheduled for Wednesday.

“I believe that we need to be satisfied with the two pilot programs before we create additional programs at other schools,” Yennie wrote in a memo to board members. “Further, I believe that we need to follow through with the students who are currently in the DLI program for the next few years, so we can understand the rate of attrition and student academic performance. … Even though the DLI teachers expressed a concern that they want a decision this month, I still need additional information in order to make a recommendation, and I will circle back with our DLI teachers to explain the reason for my delay.”

Currently, the district offers dual-language immersion to students in grades K-2 at Indian Paintbrush and Spring Creek elementary schools.

In ACSD No. 1’s current dual-language immersion program, students learn in English for half the school day, and Spanish for the other half.

Other large school districts in the state also offer Spanish-based dual-language immersion programs in an attempt to make students bilingual. Casper schools also offer Mandarin-based dual-language immersion.

About 19 percent of ACSD No. 1 students in grades K-2 are enrolled in the dual-language immersion program.

Because of space limitations at Indian Paintbrush and Spring Creek elementary schools, administrators had felt it might be necessary to expand the program to other schools if dual-language immersion classes are offered for 3rd, 4th and 5th-graders.

Yennie is now recommending that the dual-language immersion program stay only at Indian Paintbrush and Spring Creek for the immediate future.

Some school board members have indicated they’d like to have the program expanded to target more students at a greater variety of schools.

“My concern continues to be that we’re creating a special opportunity for students that kids can take advantage of only if they have hip parents,” school board member Nate Martin said during a March 6 meeting.

Currently, all participation in the program is voluntary. Parents can elect to have their children entered into a lottery that selects which students get in. For the 2018-2019 school year, all students who entered into the lottery were able to get into the program.

While a expanded program might be ideal, Yennie said that, after consulting other administrators in Wyoming, it would be more prudent to expand slowly.

“What I found, even that throughout the state, is that people who start these models prove these things out before they expand it,” he said. “I want to get the two schools that we have right now proved out. I want us to be able to demonstrate that we can do a two-track or one-track model.”

In a two-track model, students have a separate teacher for their English and Spanish portions of instruction.

That model is the one preferred by the district’s current dual-language immersion teachers. However, Yennie has indicated that Indian Paintbrush and Spring Creek don’t have the space to handle two-track classes through 5th grade.

Yennie’s now hoping to have the school board adopt a long-range plan at its April meeting, when there will be more complete data about kindergarten registration and attrition of students currently enrolled in dual-language immersion.

With a fall enrollment of 325 students, ACSD No. 1’s current kindergarten class is the smallest it’s been since 2008.

Last week, Yennie said that the 3rd grade dual-language immersion class planned for next year is unlikely to have the same enrollment numbers as this year’s 2nd grade class.

“We know there’s a handful of students that are not coming back for 3rd grade and lot of that is because they’re moving,” he said.

As the district adds dual-language immersion to new grades, new Spanish-based teachers have been hired as other teachers have left the district.

Jubal said he expects that process to continue.

“It will not happen that people will lose their job. I’m pretty convinced that that will not happen,” Yennie said. “But I can’t guarantee that everyone will still be teaching at the same grade level and school that they’re current doing, but that certainly is my desire.”

To gauge community attitudes toward the future of the dual-language immersion program, ACSD No. 1 hosted a town hall meeting on the subject in February at Indian Paintbrush. Dozens of parents came to the town hall meeting, and a survey that was send out to parents garnered about 200 responses.

(1) comment

pastrez4urinfo

OMG... on top of the new high school boon-doggle expense to your tax bill.....comes now a need to "double-down" to teach dual language. Which probably means hiring a whole bunch of spanish-speaking ony NEW teachers for the proposed p.m. Because ACSD is not clever enough to hire bi-lingual teachers in the first instance. Can you smell a huge new


payroll replete with full benefits?? Like the school empire isnt big and bloated enough.?
Ask yourself: are your kids getting any better education? How do YOU measure that?

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.