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Future of dual-language program discussed at special school board meeting


Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board member Jamazetta Bedford lists the board’s dual language schooling solutions at the meeting on May 29.

Although about 60 parents came to the special Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education meeting Tuesday night, few lasted through the lengthy work session.

After nearly four hours of discussion, the school board opened the floor to public comment.

Unlike the May 17 meeting, a number of speakers came out to show their support for the idea of expanding the Spanish dual-language program, though there was variance in how to do so exactly.

The board will vote at its regularly scheduled meeting on June 7 on whether or not to turn Frank Porter Graham Elementary School into a magnet school.

School board members discussed the pros and cons of several different options for expanding the program, including the transition of either Carrboro Elementary School or Frank Porter Graham into a magnet school.

Some parents and board members wanted the dual-language program to be spread out among many schools in strands instead.

But Anne Tomalin, a high school teacher in the district, said she was opposed to that idea, as it would stretch teacher resources for the program too thinly.

Kris Castellano, a Chapel Hill parent, said parents shouldn’t be concerned about redistricting that could occur with the transition of a neighborhood school into a magnet one.

“One door closes, but the other door opens,” she said.

Board member Mike Kelley said he was mostly concerned with increasing the capacity of and making the program available for every student in the district — something that is not currently an option.

Mia Day Burroughs, board chairwoman, said she wanted to transition Frank Porter Graham into a magnet school for the Spanish dual-language program, despite other plans discussed at the meeting and parental opposition.

Burroughs said having the program in one school would give the students in the dual-language program the most benefits.

Kathy Irvin, parent of two kids at Frank Porter Graham, said she was concerned the board did not yet know the costs behind a dual-language magnet school.

She said she didn’t want the board to make a hasty decision.

“It’s important that you get this thing right,” Irvin said.

Irvin also said she was pleased with the board’s transparency in their discussions at the meeting.

“This was a discussion we wanted you to have,” she said.

Kelley said he hoped the board could to find a solution everyone would accept.

“At the very least, everyone should be able to understand why the board makes the decision for the community,” he said.

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