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Controversies Await School Board Tonight

Orange Unified School District trustees are set to tackle several controversial issues at their meeting tonight, including the fate of bilingual education in the district and psychological counselors in the schools.

The first issue on the agenda could affect family logistics for hundreds of elementary school parents.

Administrators last month recommended that eight elementary schools--Cambridge, Fairhaven, Jordan, Lampson, La Veta, Sycamore, Taft and West Orange--adopt year-round schedules to reduce overcrowding.

That schedule would give students either 60 days of classes with 20 days of vacation, or 45 class days with 15 days off. The trustees are expected to adopt one of those alternatives tonight.

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On the bilingual issue, Trustee Robert Viviano proposed last month that the district consider English immersion, rather than the current practice of teaching academic classes in Spanish with separate English fluency sessions. The board would need a waiver from the state to make that change.

Trustees also must decide whether to renew contracts with nonprofit agencies that provide psychological counselors for 30 of the district’s 37 schools.

In November, faced with protests from parents, students and the nonprofits themselves against ending the contracts, the trustees extended them, but only temporarily.

The contracts originally had been dropped in accordance with the philosophy of the board’s politically conservative majority that personal problems should be dealt with at home, not in school.

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The board meeting will be at 7 p.m. at district headquarters, 1401 N. Handy St.


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