PROVO — Dreams of an elementary school that would educate students half the day in Spanish and half the day in English have been dashed.

Provo School District Superintendent Randy Merrill said the dual language immersion proposal was "withdrawn three weeks ago. We just withdrew it. It didn't come up. It's not on the agenda."

District officials discussed purchasing part of the Oakridge school, which has special education programs run jointly by Provo and Nebo school districts, and transforming it into a dual immersion school. About 20 percent of the students in the Provo district are from Spanish-speaking homes. Research has shown that dual immersion programs provide the most successful English as a Second Language education.

English-speaking students also would have benefited from learning Spanish, said an Arizona educator who visited with the school board on May 10. He said students are better able to understand language concepts when they have Spanish and English to compare. And Spanish in some careers is becoming a must.

District officials had determined $15 million was needed to purchase and run the school for 10 years.

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Less than two hours after the Arizona educator addressed the board, more than 150 teachers and classified employees — non-teaching employees such as custodians, secretaries and school foods workers — addressed the school board and urged them to be generous with pay raises and benefits increases during contract negotiations for next school year.

Some teachers have been critical of the dual immersion program. They say that money should go to their pay and benefits.

A dual immersion program at Timpanogos Elementary currently is operating under capacity, Provo Board of Education member Carolyn Wright said.

"I do not feel that now is the time in Provo School District to spend our resources in that way," she said.


E-mail: lhancock@desnews.com