Fresno Unified hopes to expand bilingual education program

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Sunset Elementary School boasts a unique classroom setting where students are taught in both English and Spanish. (KFSN)

Parents at one Fresno Unified School are on a mission to promote bilingualism by boosting enrollment at a dual immersion school.

Sunset Elementary School boasts a unique classroom setting where students are taught in both English and Spanish.

Earlier this year, parents were worried the dual immersion school would change drastically after Fresno Unified's school board received a recommendation to add English-only classes.

Trustees, though, shot down the proposal and voted to keep Sunset the way it is based on its students' high test scores and that every kid leaves the school bilingual.

"We took that victory," parent Jason Jordan said. "That doesn't mean the fight's over. We need to gear up for a big battle and that big battle is we need to get our numbers up."

Right now, Sunset has roughly 260 students, but the district would like to see that number eventually grow to 500.

"Ideally, we want to grow by at least 40 students for the coming school year for the DI program and then continue to grow every year," Maria Maldonado with the Fresno Unified School District said.

The school requires a commitment of Kindergarten through 6th grade, and, currently, the students in Kindergarten speak 90 percent Spanish and 10 percent English."

Eventually, by 6th grade, students speak 50-50 in the classroom.

Now, a grass roots effort is underway by parents to boost enrollment numbers and help Sunset Elementary thrive.

"We're out there pounding the pavement," parent Gary Gossett said. "The PTA is very involved. We are meeting and coming together with ideas and flyers."

For the first time in years, the Parent Teacher Association took out an ad in the local parent magazine. They're also sharing their personal stories of success.

"Just to see them reading, writing and speaking Spanish it's going to open so many doors for them in the future," Gossett said.

A series of informational meetings will be held this week at elementary schools in the Edison High School area.

Here's where the meetings are taking place:

Monday, April 25 at 8:15am at Addams Elementary School
Tuesday, April 26 at 8:15am at Columbia Elementary School
Wednesday, April 27 at 8:15am at King Elementary School
Thursday, April 28 at 8:15am at Kirk Elementary School
Friday, April 29 at 8:15am at Lincoln Elementary School
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educationeducationfresno unified school districtFresno
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