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School board to discuss Montgomery Elementary again on Thursday

By From page A1 | April 18, 2012

Thursday’s meeting of the Davis school board will include a follow-up discussion of issues connected to Montgomery Elementary School and South Davis enrollment — a topic that drew a standing-room-only crowd when the board held a special meeting at Harper Junior High on March 8.

That night, the board heard from the school district’s South Davis Enrollment Committee, as well as from dozens of parents with children at Montgomery and Pioneer, the two schools serving South Davis.

The public comment referenced everything from closing a school to revamping the Montgomery program to creating a pair of linked South Davis schools, with one campus serving grades K-3 and the other 4-6.

A revamped Montgomery program could include a “dual immersion” program, the board was told, which would serve students whose first language is Spanish as well as students whose parents want their children to learn Spanish.

After hearing more than three hours of committee presentation and comment on March 8, the board instructed staff to come back in April with a more focused list of possibilities for implementation this fall.

“We are not going to recommend a K-3/4-6 type program for next year, and we are not going to recommend closing a school next year,” Associate Superintendent Clark Bryant said this week.

“The direction that the school board gave us was to investigate a possible expansion of the Spanish Immersion program (currently at Montgomery) from grades K-3 to grades K-6, which could happen over a period of years,” he added.

Bryant said staff also has outlined what a dual immersion program could look like.

“One of the basic tenets of dual immersion is a fairly equal number of target language speakers — Spanish, in this case,” he said. “A 50-50 mix is optimal, but it could be 60-40 or 70-30. There are different ways to do it with different ratios.

“I don’t think we could support a dual immersion program and a Spanish Immersion program at the same school site,” Bryant added.

When asked if the Spanish Immersion strand at Montgomery might relocate to another school so that a dual immersion program could be created there, Bryant said “that would be for the school board to decide.”

Trustees also will hear update on support programs for Montgomery students, aimed at improving test scores and getting the school out of federal Program Improvement status. Montgomery has a math specialist, a community liaison and support in the reading program.

“Each of our schools has its own unique needs,” Bryant said. “As a district, we want to make sure we’re providing an appropriate level of support for the students studying in each one of our school communities.

“And for this particular school site, making sure we address the needs of poverty and English learners — as well as the other families that make up that community — is essential.”

Montgomery serves a higher-than-normal number, by Davis standards, of English learners and students who qualify for free or reduced-price meal programs.

Bryant said decisions about Montgomery will be made soon, to get programs and staff in place for the start of the school year in August.

“Our hope is that any program put in place would help maintain enrollment at its current level — or higher — at Montgomery, and also at Pioneer,” he said.

Elsewhere on Thursday’s agenda, the school board will:

* Hear a report on career technical education courses.

* Consider approval of layoff notices for several classified employees, including reductions in secretarial staffing, paraeducators and library technicians. This is the latest in a series of resolutions relating to reducing the school district’s $3.5 million ongoing structural deficit.

* Recognize volunteers who worked on the recent Measure C campaign committee, and pollster/strategist Jay Ziegler, a Davis resident and parent, who contributed his professional services to the campaign.

Thursday’s meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Community Chambers at Davis City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd. The meeting will be carried live on Davis cable Channel 17 and as live streaming video on www.djusd.tv.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or (530) 747-8055.

Jeff Hudson

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