Student registration for the Park City School District dual-immersion program is fast approaching. Parents interested in enrolling their kindergarteners the now fully-implemented program, which was expanded last year to all four elementary schools, will be able to attend an upcoming meeting to learn more about the dual-immersion system and ask administration any questions.
Depending on which school the student attends, the dual-immersion program focuses on integrating a second language in a normal classroom setting, teaching either French or Spanish. Piloted at Parley's Park Elementary in 2009, dual-immersion students learn a second language by spending half the day using English instruction and half of the day in the second language, preparing students to "successfully compete in a complex global economy," according to the school district.
The program rolled out to all four schools this year, offering Spanish at McPolin and Parley's Park elementary schools and French at Trailside and Jeremy Ranch elementary schools. And since the program was first introduced, the number of students enrolling and the number of students on the waitlist has increased.
"I get anywhere from three to 10 phone calls on any given day, and of those calls, at least one is a parent who is moving to Park City and wants their child in the dual-immersion program," said Ellie Gallagher, the Park City Dual Immersion Program Specialist.
"It has definitely evolved," she added, "starting as this small pilot program where just one school tried it to the board deciding to add a program in each of the schools We have gotten away from registering at school sites, now registering every student into a lottery system through the district office."
Though the Spanish program continues to be the most competitive a fact Gallagher attributes to the enrollment system where only half of admitted students are native English speakers as some schools enter the third and fourth year of the program, the waitlists continue to grow. Last fall, Parley's Park had 37 names on the waitlist. Jeremy Ranch, the second oldest dual-immersion program in the district, had four children on the waitlist. McPolin Elementary, which debuted dual-immersion in the fall, had nine names on the waitlist.
In the Spanish dual-immersion programs, native English speakers make up roughly 50 percent of the class, making it more difficult for native English speakers to enter the program as Parley's Park and McPolin continue to gain interest among Spanish-speaking parents.
"McPolin is in its first year," Gallagher said, "and is has been a little more challenging to fill up the Spanish-speaking side. Typically, we have to educate. With a lot of families, there were misunderstandings that program had a fee attached or that parents would have to pay for it. But there is no fee and anyone can be a part of it."
"The program is becoming more competitive," she added, "and I expect that to continue in coming years."
The PCSD is scheduled to host a Parent Information Night on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at the Ecker Hill Middle School at 7 p.m. Parents will be able to register with the school district starting the following morning and any new students to the program will be placed in a lottery system to determine whether or not they will be selected. The application deadline is March 8.