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Parents support language immersion program

Jefferson School District

Language Immersion Programs

RIGBY, Idaho -
The Jefferson School District's Chinese and Spanish immersion programs have gained a lot of support from parents.

Since pre-registration has topped 300 students, district administrators say they will likely hold a lottery for the available spots.

Staff at Jefferson Elementary School and South Fork Elementary in Rigby, Idaho have been developing a language immersion program for next year's kindergartners.

The languages were narrowed down to Spanish and Chinese. South Fork Elementary school will offer Chinese and Spanish will be offered at Jefferson Elementary, but funding is the main obstacle in moving the program forward.

The immersion program costs the district $7,000 annually, which comes to around $200 per student per year.
For the nine classrooms planning to implement the immersion program, the total cost would be around $56,000.

"We're in a very lean budget year,so the district cannot afford to invest any of its maintenance and operating costs at all. So we're going to have to find a way, if we're going to do this, to have start-up costs taken care of by either private donations, parents or foundations," said superintendent of Jefferson School District Dr. Ron Tolman.

Tolman held a meeting with 80 interested parents and asked for their financial pledge in funding the program. The support was overwhelming.

"We asked parents to give us an idea by pledging an amount they were willing to donate, it totally amazed me. Of the 80 parents we had $24,00 pledged," said Tolman.

Tolman hopes the remaining parents will also be just as willing.

"Those there said they are willing to pay for more than their fair share, because they care so much to make this program go," said Tolman.

School administrators will now survey the remaining parents and ask them for pledges, based on that financial support, the implementation of the immersion program will be decided by the school board on April 10.

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