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Board downsizes Japanese dual-language program

But Korean immersion program at Monte Vista Elementary will be expanded.

October 03, 2013|By Kelly Corrigan, kelly.corrigan@latimes.com

[Note: This article was corrected. See details below.]

The Japanese dual-language immersion program at Verdugo Woodlands Elementary will be downsized rather than moved to another school, the Glendale Unified school board decided Tuesday.

The vote ended months of discussion among Glendale school officials, parents and residents over the future of that dual-language program, as well as the Korean program at Monte Vista Elementary, which will be expanded.

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Much of the discussion centered on how the two schools would accommodate the programs that increased both schools' populations and added to neighborhood traffic congestion.

While some parents spoke in favor of keeping the Japanese program at Verdugo Woodlands, others hoped all of the program's 200 students could relocate to another school with greater capacity.

The school sits on 5.6 acres that is divided by Verdugo Wash, and currently has 815 students enrolled, which slightly exceeds Glendale Unified's 800-student capacity guideline for elementary schools.

School board member Christine Walters said she heard concerns from parents about children eating lunch on the ground outside because there wasn't enough room to eat at the tables inside the school.

Verdugo Woodlands Principal Kristina Provost countered, however, that there is “ample seating” during lunch.

School board member Armina Gharpetian, whose three children have attended Verdugo Woodlands at various times over the past nine years, choked up when she recounted tales of parents telling her they would remove their children from the school if the overcrowding continues there. 

“That broke my heart,” she said, after urging the board to postpone the vote to discuss additional options. However, fellow school board members opted to move forward.

Gharpetian cast the only dissenting vote to downsize the Japanese program at Verdugo Woodlands, where one new Japanese kindergarten class will enter each year instead of two beginning in the fall of 2014.

Walters said it was a tough decision.

“I know for a fact, no matter what the decision is today, there's going to be lots of unhappy people,” Walters said. “We have heard every iteration, ‘The program should stay.' ‘The program should go.'”

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