Fresno Unified expands bilingual education program to more schools

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Wawona Middle School, Rowell Elementary School and McLane High School will begin their dual immersion programs this fall. (KFSN)

A program at Fresno Unified to help students become bilingual by graduation will soon be expanding to additional schools.

On Friday afternoon, the Fresno Unified interim superintendent announced plans to expand the dual immersion program into more schools.

The goal is for students to become bilingual and bi-literate by the time they graduate high school.

Wawona Middle School, Rowell Elementary School and McLane High School will begin their programs this fall.

"We know that in our community, our students do better when they can carry two languages and two cultures with them into the workforce," interim superintendent Bob Nelson said.

The program begins teaching kindergarten in 90 percent Spanish and 10 percent English. With each passing grade, more English is taught until it reaches 50 percent in each language by the 4th grade.

"Wawona has been so underserved, sitting at 50 percent vacancy," FUSD board president Brooke Ashjian said. "And I laid out the plan what I thought would work, and Bob took it to his team and within 60 days we're standing here today saying we're going to put this together in the fall."

Ashjian believes things have changed for the better with new interim superintendent Nelson, and he says the open communication is what's allowing the district to make these types of moves so quickly.

"Now we have open communication between the superintendent and all board members, and we're able to actually get things done," he said.

Parents can submit requests for their students to enroll anytime for fall, and Fresno Unified says their goal is to expand these opportunities across the district to give anyone who's interested the chance to participate.

"I really believe we're creating a new student and a new individual and a new community member which is going to the face of Fresno," Ashjian said.
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