By Mike Linn
PNT Managing Editor
Portales school officials are hoping to implement a dual-language program beginning next school year for kindergartners at L. L. Brown Grade School.
The Portales School Board approved an application Tuesday night for the program to be presented to the state’s education department by March 1.
Currently there are 108 students participating in the school district’s bilingual program, which was incorporated to help Spanish-speaking students learn English.
The dual-language program will offer the same guidance to Spanish-speaking students but also allow English-speaking students to learn Spanish.
Students who sign up for the program should be able to speak both Spanish and English fluently after six years, Program Director and Steiner Elementary Principal Rick Segovia said.
“Research shows that students who commit to this program will eventually pass their counterparts (on standardized tests),” Segovia said.
The program will begin at Brown next year, when students who sign up for the program will be taught 10 percent of the day in a second language, either English or Spanish. The remainder of the school day will be taught in their language of choice.
The split will be increased to 80/20 the following year in first grade. The split will increase by 10 percent each year until the students receive 50 percent of their classes in English and 50 percent in Spanish during their fourth- and fifth-grade years at Valencia Elementary, Segovia said.
“We want parents (who sign there children up) to commit to the bilingual program until the fifth grade,” Segovia said.
Portales schools pays a minimum of $180,000 annually for its five bilingual teachers. Murphy Quick, the school district’s finance director, said $80,000 of that comes from state funding for the bilingual program.
Quick said he doesn’t think there will be any additional funding from the state for the dual-language program. But he said it’s possible the district could survive without having to add an additional bilingual teacher who isn’t already employed as a teacher.
Superintendent Dr. Jim Holloway said Portales teachers who would like to become certified to teach for the dual-language program can earn certification paid for by Portales schools.
Also at the meeting:
— The board accepted donations of computers by Michael McGuire for Portales High School; and a donation of $950 from Wells Fargo Bank.
— The board approved a $46,089 budget increase for instructional materials.