URBANA — Urbana schools expect to have four dual-language kindergarten classrooms and two dual-language first-grade classrooms next year.
Joe Wiemelt, the school district's director of bilingual and multicultural programs, updated the school board at its meeting Tuesday on the new dual-language program. He said the number of native Spanish-speakers who enrolled in April for kindergarten for next year is higher than the district previously expected.
Three native English-speaking kindergartners are wait-listed for the program, Wiemelt told the board, and seven native English-speaking first-graders are on a wait list.
A total of 21 English-speaking students applied at Prairie Elementary School, including 12 kindergartners and seven first-graders. Thirty-two applied at Leal Elementary School, including 20 kindergartners and 12 first-graders.
Students not in those schools' attendance areas were able to go through the petition process to apply, Wiemelt said, and students were assigned to classrooms through a lottery.
Wiemelt said after school registration in August, there's flexibility for some of those on the wait list to move into dual-language programs.
The dual-language program will be at Leal and Prairie next year, with two kindergarten classrooms and one first-grade classroom at each school. The program allows both native English and Spanish speakers to learn in both languages, with the goal of making them bilingual and literate in both English and Spanish.
"We're moving forward in the right direction," Wiemelt said.
The program will feature two temporary teachers from Spain, who are being hosted through an exchange between the Illinois State Board of Education and the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.
The other four teachers in the program will be local teachers, Wiemelt said.