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Glendale Unified grapples with fewer students taking language immersion courses in secondary schools

Faced with fewer students enrolling in language-immersion courses once they reach the secondary-school level, Glendale Unified officials may consolidate some immersion programs in middle schools and do away with them entirely at Hoover High School.

“The reality of small class sizes at the secondary level has been an ongoing issue,” said Sherry Kully, a coordinator for student support services.

Only three students in the current sixth-grade Italian class at Franklin Magnet Elementary School are expected to enroll in Italian at Roosevelt Middle School next school year.

Of the 32 sixth-graders studying Korean at Monte Vista Elementary, half said they’ll continue studying Korean at Rosemont Middle School, according to a district report.

The Foreign Language Academies of Glendale — or FLAG — has put Glendale Unified on the map with neighboring districts seeking to offer similar programs.

The programs have waiting lists at the elementary level, year after year.

However, Kully said the reasons why students have decided to not study foreign languages at the middle-school level vary.

Sometimes they attend other schools; other times they sign up for other electives, such as a new language, art or music.

That was the case for 63 students this year, Kully added.

“How do we build a program that is sustainable so that it is not limping along, ragged?” said Glendale Unified Supt. Winfred Roberson Jr. “We have to make a decision.”

Under the strain of the district’s ongoing budget deficit, eliminating courses would also save the district money.

About eight full-time equivalent employees teach immersion programs at Glendale Unified middle and high schools, at an annual cost of $800,000.

Consolidating programs at the middle-school level, and not offering them at Hoover would save the district $200,000 a year, starting with the 2017-18 school year, said Jacqueline Perez, assistant superintendent.

Several world language courses, however, would still to be offered at local high schools, including in Spanish, French, German, Korean and Armenian.

Under the proposal, students who have studied Korean at Monte Vista Elementary, and will attend Rosemont Middle School next school year, may attend Toll Middle School instead.

Meanwhile, the students who studied Armenian at R.D. White and Jefferson elementary schools may continue to study Armenian at Wilson Middle School, instead of both Wilson and Toll.

With the school board expected to vote on the issue during its May 23 meeting, school officials plan to alert parents of the potential change, so they can weigh in on it.

kelly.corrigan@latimes.com

Twitter: @kellymcorrigan

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