The Eau Claire school board on Monday will decide whether the district will implement a Spanish dual immersion program at Longfellow Elementary in the fall.
The immersion program, as proposed, would begin with a kindergarten class next academic year, then gradually expand by one grade level each year until the program served kindergarten through fifth grade.
Late last year, the board selected Longfellow Elementary as the proposed program’s site, if approved, as it was likely the transportation cost wouldn’t be as great as at other schools. At the time, costs for transportation were projected to be anywhere between $18,258 and $73,032.
Dave Oldenberg, district director of academic services, said he will present updated transportation costs to the board at its Monday meeting. He said the board may decide to delay implementation, as the decision will depend on what they wish to prioritize in terms of budgeting.
“The board has to make this decision in terms of the construct of other budget priorities,” Oldenberg said. “So, we’ll see. They have to consider ‘what is their priority?’ and ‘what meets our strategic values and our core beliefs?’ and go forward from there.”
Whether the dual immersion program moves forward for implementation or is delayed may affect other future school board decisions.
Since October, the board has been considering recommendations from the demographic trends and facilities committee to shutter Roosevelt Elementary and repurpose the facility into a center for 4-year-old kindergarten.
However, if the dual immersion program moves forward, district officials have said the option of closing Roosevelt would be challenging in terms of the distribution of students in north side elementary schools. Longfellow and Roosevelt are both located on the north side.
“The long-term viability of this plan is uncertain,” district director of administration Kim Koller told parents at a listening session early last month. “Short term, we’re confident it’s a solution.”
Oldenberg said it appears the dual immersion program has generated considerable community interest. District listening sessions saw roughly 200 people who attended the meetings to ask questions and seek further information about dual immersion programs in general.
“Those are fun conversations to have,” Oldenberg said. “We’ll ask the board what to do. This is the next step.”
Memorial athletic field upgrades
Despite concerns over equity and a divide between the Eau Claire’s north and south sides, the board on Monday will continue discussions of a proposal to construct a $2.4 million athletic field at Memorial High School.
The proposal, originally brought to the board in January, calls for the district to match a group of anonymous Eau Claire residents’ donation of $1.2 million.
District administration staff will again present the proposal, address concerns of equity, compare the facilities of Memorial and North High School, review the commitment from the community donors and discuss the district’s ideas for matching the donation, according to current meeting materials.
The board is slated to vote on the matter April 1.
The proposed project would include improvements such as:
• Installation of artificial turf on the site of Memorial’s track.
• Resurfacing the track.
• Upgrades to other track and field areas.
• New lights and scoreboard.
• Construction of a main entrance and storage building.
Options the school board could consider to fund the project include selling the naming rights, advertising, reprioritizing the district’s five-year capital plan or taking out a loan, according to meeting materials.
Board members at the last meeting said they weren’t sure they were comfortable supporting improvements made to only one of the high schools.
“I think it’s exciting and wonderful that people from the community can offer these opportunities to improve facilities for sports. I wish we had more donations of this kind,” board member Eric Torres said March 4. “I don’t think, though, that I would be comfortable supporting the approval of this donation with conditions.”
The Eau Claire school board will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at the district Administration Building, 500 Main St.