FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Parents gathered at the Fresno Unified School Board meeting objecting to plans to change the curriculum at Sunset Elementary School. Parents said the school's dual immersion program is at risk.
School board members will vote Wednesday night on adding a traditional English curriculum to Sunset to ease overcrowding at neighboring schools. Parents are upset that plans could be approved to change the bilingual dynamic at Sunset Elementary School. "We need to enhance our dual immersion program, we need to build on it and not destroy it by changing the dual immersion program," said Gary Gossett, parent.
Right now Sunset elementary school is the only 100-percent dual immersion school. The specialty curriculum is a seven-year commitment, starting off children in kindergarten speaking 90% Spanish and 10% English-- eventually speaking 50-50 in six grade. Now, Fresno unified wants to add traditional English classes to accommodate overcrowding at neighboring elementary schools. "I feel the overcrowding problems, not something that happened overnight. That they were well aware of the growing population that something they should have done a long time ago," said Gossett.
Parents said adding English speaking students will distract dual Immersion kids from the bilingual program and create a divide on campus.
Both Gossett and Kenny Williams actually live within a different school district but chose to transfer their children to Sunset specifically for the dual immersion program. Wednesday night, school board members will be voting it to expand the boundaries for Sunset Elementary school which would add an additional 444 students "I hope they won't approve the proposal and they'll step back and look at the bigger picture and work with us to find the best solution for the students," said Williams.
Fresno Unified officials said the dual immersion program at Sunset will continue to thrive even with the additional students next school year. "With the proposal of opening the school with an English immersion program they don't know what that is like, and they worry that it jeopardizes the dual immersion, which, in no way is that a possibility," said Maria Maldonados, Fresno Unified.
The school board will take up the vote and if the proposal is approved Sunset will begin accepting students for it's traditional English classes for the next school year.