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German program gets reprieve

District officials do about-face, agree to accept full kindergarten class in fall 2012 while reexamining program viability.

December 21, 2011
  • Krista Ghaman puts her hands to her face in relief after it was announced by the Glendale superintendent that the issue of German immersion would be reevaluated as her husband Roger Ghaman and Janet Herald, all of Glendale, clap in approval of the announcement on Tuesday, December 20, 2011. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)
Krista Ghaman puts her hands to her face in relief after…

Glendale Unified officials did an about-face Tuesday, announcing they would enroll a complete class of German-language kindergarten students at Franklin Elementary School in fall 2012 rather than initiating a drawdown of the program as previously planned.

Speaking to a standing-room only crowd of German program parents at the school Tuesday night, Glendale Unified Supt. Dick Sheehan said the district would also create a task force that includes “a selective group of parents…to show that the German program is a viable option.”

The task force will be responsible for studying all facets of the German dual-language immersion program, including enrollment numbers, staffing issues and resource needs, and will report its findings to the school community and Glendale Unified school board in the coming months, Sheehan said.

Many German program parents said they were relieved by the one-year reprieve, and were ready to work hard to ensure the longevity of the program.

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“We want to be sure that the recommendations made last week are withdrawn, and we want it to be crystal clear that this community believes that there should be no change in the German program,” parent Janet Herold said while addressing the crowd.

Launched in 2008, German is one of six languages now offered within Glendale Unified’s burgeoning Foreign Languages Academies of Glendale, commonly referred to as the FLAG programs. It is one of three languages — including Spanish and Italian — taught at Franklin Elementary, a federally designated magnet school.

During a presentation to school board members on Dec. 13, Deputy Supt. John Garcia said the German program was facing serious challenges. The number of applicants lagged behind those of Glendale Unified’s other FLAG programs and teachers credentialed to teach German in California proved scarce.

He recommended that the district phase out the program, starting with a single additional kindergarten class in fall 2012 that would consist solely of siblings of current German enrollees. The plans also called for the inauguration of a French program at Franklin Elementary, and to convert the campus to only include kindergarten through fifth grade, instead of going up to sixth grade.

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