CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this article said kindergarteners who do not wish to be part of the program will likely be assigned elsewhere. Only current kindergarteners will have this option to join the new program or move to a new school next year. The story has been updated with the correct information. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error.
Change is coming to Glenwood Elementary after the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education voted to convert Glenwood into a magnet school with an emphasis on its Mandarin language immersion program.
The program, which teaches students half of their curriculum in English and half in Mandarin, will become the central focus of the school.
An increasing amount of students have entered the Mandarin track in recent years, which has led to overcrowding at the school, said Jeff Nash, executive director of community relations for the district.
“Over the course of the years, we’ve added a new class each year as those kids have moved up,” Nash said. “There’s no more classrooms, so you’ve got to make some tough decisions with what you do with it.”
Although there had been concerns about further overcrowding at Glenwood this year, traditional enrollment fell by over 150 students, according to a Board of Education report. The district said it does not know why this drop occurred or whether it is part of a pattern.
Even so, some parents feel that the Mandarin program diverts resources from other necessities in the district
“I think the Mandarin program receives a disproportionate amount of funding and attention and is not best for the overall school district when so many other services are not being provided,” said one Culbreth Middle School parent through an opinion survey conducted by the district.
Kristie Mather, the co-chair of the Mandarin Advisory Committee, has a daughter in the Mandarin program and said she sees enormous benefits for kids.