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Valparaiso school board shows statement of support for Parkview dual language program

Valparaiso school board shows statement of support for Parkview dual language program

Parkview parents continue push to retain Valparaiso dual language program

Valparaiso Parkview Elementary School dual language teacher Amelia Mota leads her first grade students in full immersive Spanish in August 2018.

VALPARAISO — The Valparaiso Community Schools board unanimously passed a statement of support last week for its Parkview Elementary dual language immersion program.

The board met March 19 to a near-empty board room, given concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Valparaiso students have been conducting out-of-school eLearning this week and will continue to do so through May 1 following an order issued Thursday from Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Board President Rob Behrend read the statement Thursday night extending assurances the board is committed to maintaining the status quo next year of the elementary language program after district administration moved in December to cut the program with the end of this school year.

Following vocal community feedback expressing support for the popular program, the VCS administration reassessed its decision to discontinue the program, saying instead school leaders would work together to implement new models inclusive of both native and non-native Spanish speaking students.

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The board statement Thursday night reiterated those proposals, reading in full, “The Board of Trustees for the Valparaiso Community Schools supports the Dual Language Immersion program.

“The Board commits to the status quo for the DLI program in 2020-21 followed by the renewed three year PILOT program through 2023-24. The Board further supports continuous evaluation of finances, staffing, and curriculum to assist with the future of the DLI program.”

Behrend said the board is committed to supporting VCS staff in creating what he said he hopes can be the “best DLI program in the state of Indiana.”

“We’ve gone through three or four months of parents expressing their concerns about the DLI program and I want the parents to know that the administration, teachers and all of the staff that are involved with that, including the board, have taken all of their comments very seriously throughout the process,” Behrend said.

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Rebecca Hoyle, a Parkview Elementary parent and advocate in support of continuing Parkview DLI, said the statement helps put her at ease about the board’s role in future discussions of the program.

Parents expressed shock this winter at the Valparaiso administration’s initial decision to cancel the program without significant community input or school board discussion.

“It makes me feel like, as a parent, I can take a breath,” Hoyle said, expressing her appreciation for the board. “We haven't always agreed with their decisions, but the discussions are what make the difference to me.”

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