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Big plans for McDonald Elementary

January 20th, 2011 · 1 Comment

Recently, 100 parents met with the McDonald Elementary School principal and Seattle Public Schools representatives to learn more about plans to create an international, language-immersion program the school.  A good chunk of the U-District is assigned to McDonald.

When the decision to make McDonald an international school was announced last month, fall 2012 was the target date to begin language immersion for kindergarteners. McDonald principal Cheryl Grinager surprised parents with the news that the goal now is for language immersion to begin in two tracks — Spanish and Japanese — for kindergarten and first grade students in fall 2011. Other aspects of international education would be added the next year.

The future home of McDonald International Elementary School, at N. 54th and Latona. It will open in fall 2012; students are currently at Lincoln High School (Interlake and N. 44th).

Grinager said this speedier schedule was possible because McDonald could collaborate with nearby John Stanford International School. Tours of JSIS with Grinager and JSIS principal Kelly Aramaki have been scheduled for prospective McDonald parents on March 2 and March 16 at 9:30 a.m.

Seattle Public Schools Manager of International Programs Karen Kodama, who was the founding principal when JSIS became the city’s first international school, gave a lengthy presentation about international schools that included information similar to the background on this .pdf document.

Kodama also showed expansions plans for international schools throughout Seattle. There are now 6 such schools, and her plan is to create 12 in three sectors of the city (North, South and West Seattle). South and West Seattle international schools offer Mandarin and Spanish; North Seattle international schools will continue to offer Japanese and Spanish.

Bree Dusseault, a Seattle Public Schools executive director, told the group that she was 99 percent sure that McDonald would be approved as an international school. At a work session on Jan. 12, the board recommended reducing the number of new international schools in this year’s budget from three to one; Dusseault and Kodama both said they think McDonald will be that school.

The school board is scheduled to finalize its decisions in mid-February. Open enrollment for Seattle Public Schools is March 15-March 31, 2011.

Some parents were concerned that their children might not be a good fit for language immersion, wherein students learn math and science in Spanish or Japanese. Kodama said that it’s appropriate for most children, but that there would be an alternate school available to families who opted out of McDonald. Grinager told us this morning that B.F. Day Elementary would be the alternative school, as it is for JSIS.

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