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SALT LAKE CITY — Expansion plans for Utah's dual-immersion language program are in danger. A lack of funding could keep new schools and new languages from coming in the fall.
Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, says the Utah legislature has failed to prioritize funding for the new dual immersion language programs.
Alpine Elementary- Chinese
Riverview Elementary- Chinese
Rocky Mountain Elementary- Portuguese
Foothill Elementary- Chinese
American Leadership Academy- Spanish
Renaissance Academy- Chinese
Valley Crest Elementary- Spanish
East Elementary- Spanish
Herriman Elementary- Spanish
Welby Elementary- Spanish
Parkside Elementary- Portuguese
Jeremy Ranch Elementary- French
McPolin Elementary- Spanish
Lakeview Elementary- German
Arrowhead Elementary- Chinese
Horizon Elementary- Chinese
Three Falls Elementary- Chinese
Hurricane Elementary- Spanish
Red Mountain- Spanish
Bates Elementary- Chinese
Freedom Elementary- Spanish
Farmington Jr High- Spanish
Legacy Jr. High- Spanish
The programs call for students to learn in one language for half of the day, and a second language the other half of the day.
Stephenson says if the $800,000 appropriation is not made, 23 planned new programs will be gone.
"We are a national leader in dual-immersion and I hate to see it canceled for these first-graders. Because this is not that they are put on a waiting list, they are put on a deny list. If you don't start this in first grade you don't get to start this at all," Stephenson said.
"Most of these schools have waiting lists now. So that's why we are also continuing expansion. This is market demand, and we are trying to give the ability to open more schools," said Gregg Roberts, world language specialist with the Utah State Office of Education.
State educators were looking forward to expanding the program in the fall. Not only are new Chinese, French and Spanish programs supposed to come on board, but the Murray and Alpine districts plan to add Portuguese, and the Provo school district is going to add German.
Roberts says state business leaders determined which languages would be the most important.
"Utah students will be competing for jobs against students from Asia, Europe, Latin America, and to be able to do that, Utah students need to be multi-lingual and globally competent," Roberts said.
The goal is to have 100 dual-immersion programs with 30,000 students enrolled by 2014. Currently there are 57 schools, where most of the bi-lingual students have reached third grade. If the legislative funding comes through, in the fall there will be about 80 programs and 14,000 students enrolled.
View a state promotional video about dual immersion programs here: