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Glendale Unified says auf wiedersehen to German language program

December 15, 2011
  • Kindergarten classroom at Franklin Elementary in Glendale. (Times Community News)
Kindergarten classroom at Franklin Elementary in Glendale.…

It’s auf wiedersehen to German, and bonjour to French at Glendale Unified.

District officials this week outlined plans to phase out German from its dual-language program, while adding French starting next fall.

The district has struggled to attract families to fill its German classes at Franklin Elementary School, the hub of its Foreign Language Academies of Glendale, according to Deputy Supt. John Garcia.

It was the only dual-language offering, commonly known as the FLAG programs, that did not have a waiting list during the enrollment process last year, with parents opting for German only after they could not get a slot in Spanish or Italian classes, he said.

In addition, hiring fluent German speakers with California teaching credentials has been a challenge, Garcia said.

“[Our search] has yielded almost no candidates over the past few years,” Garcia said. “We have had some opportunities and some people we thought were coming, and that didn’t land and then we kind of found ourselves in a lurch.”

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Meanwhile, the interest in French is strong, Garcia said. There are just two French language schools in the Los Angeles area, but both are private and include high tuition rates.

“Over 100 people have expressed interest,” Garcia said. “We have got as firm a commitment as you can get from well over one kindergarten class [worth of families].”

In plans detailed during the Glendale Unified school board meeting on Tuesday, Garcia said that starting in fall 2012 the district will accept one final class of German students, but only those whose older siblings are already enrolled in the program.

The German students will graduate through Franklin Elementary, until there are no more left at the school.

At the same time, the district will launch a French program at the school, Garcia said. The plan also includes making the site a K-5 school, rather than the current K-6 campus, starting in 2013-14.

Families have until Jan. 27 to apply for a spot at Franklin Elementary via the district’s magnet school application process.

Muriel Gassan, a native of France and the parent of two young children who had pushed the district to add French, said she was thrilled to learn that the program was becoming a reality.

“Having a French program in an American public school combines two really positive things,” Gassan said.

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