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New dual-language immersion class could be a boon

Fifteen students remain on a waiting list for Burbank Unified’s first Spanish dual-language immersion program after a lottery held April 22 determined the 29 students who won seats in the class.

Beginning this fall, students in a kindergarten class at Disney Elementary will spend 80% of their day speaking and learning in Spanish.


By the third and fourth grades, students will spend half the day speaking and learning in Spanish.

After more than a year of consideration, the school board months ago unanimously approved the program amid high demand from parents.


Last year, Burbank officials granted about 200 permits for Burbank elementary students to attend dual-immersion programs outside the district.

And demand has not dropped, even after the school district stopped accepting applications on April 15.

“Since we’ve now closed the application process and held the lottery, we’ve had many, many more phone calls from people who are still interested,” said Tom Kissinger, the district’s director of elementary education.

As of Monday, the majority of parents of the students chosen confirmed that their children will participate in the class, he said.


If the parents of the remaining handful of students do not accept their children’s placement in the class by today, school officials will proceed down the waiting list until the class is filled, Kissinger said.

Eight of the students in the new class either speak Spanish or are bilingual in Spanish and English.

More than 25 bilingual teachers — none of whom are current Burbank educators —— applied to teach the class.

Five teacher finalists will be interviewed by administrators this week, Kissinger said.


The selected teacher will be hired by May 15 with an annual salary of between $70,000 and $90,000, officials have said. A bilingual teacher’s aide may also be hired, potentially costing the district up to $22,000 more.

Although the class is projected to cost about $110,000 a year, it could also bring in up to $150,000 from the state’s per-student allotment because fewer students will be leaving the district to take part in dual-immersion programs elsewhere.

“I am delighted that our school board and superintendent have been so supportive,” Kissinger said. “They know how positive this will be for the community.”


Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.