Clifty chosen for new effort: Dual-language program to start in 2018-19 year

Clifty Creek Elementary School has been chosen as host school for a dual-language immersion program that will begin in the 2018-19 school year.

Bartholomew Consolidated School Board members Monday unanimously approved offering the program that would allow pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students to learn in a bilingual classroom.

The program would create classes made up of half native Spanish speakers and the other half native English speakers, said Laura Hack, BCSC’s director of elementary education.

Two classes will be offered for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students at Clifty Creek, Hack said. Under the program, students would be taught English and Spanish by a native Spanish speaker, while students would be immersed in Spanish for most of the day.

The program would be voluntary and families would have to apply to have their students in the program, Hack said. There would be no special fees for students in the program, she said.

The district will develop a planning team at Clifty Creek beginning next month that will involve parents, teachers and administration members, said Gina Pleak, BCSC’s director of title services.

The district plans to work with the Association of Two-Way & Dual Language Education, a non-profit organization based in San Jose, California, to provide training for the program, Hack said.

Hack and Pleak recently returned from a conference to learn more about the dual-language program.

A 24-member panel made up of teachers, parents, administrators and school board members formed in January to research two-way immersion programs, Pleak said.

The district has applied for a grant from the Indiana Department of Education for up to $50,000 that would be used for planning, professional development and curriculum resources tied to the two-way immersion program. A decision on the grant funding is expected later this week.

Clifty Creek was selected because it has room to host the program, Hack said.

School board member Robert Abrams said the program will help students expand future employment opportunities. Other languages could potentially be offered in the future depending on the success of this program, he said.

“Looking at where companies in this community are, there are other languages that would give young people a step up,” he said.

The program fits well with BCSC’s mission to prepare all learners to succeed in a competitive global economy, superintendent Jim Roberts said.

What's next

Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. officials are organizing a planning team for a new language-immersion program at Clifty Creek Elementary School. BCSC will also work with the Association of Two-Way & Dual Language Education, a non-profit organization, to provide training for the dual language immersion program.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com