An email has been circulated among the Ward School PTA over concerns regarding adding Italian CILA to Ward:
Over the last couple of weeks, I have been hearing some "chatter" regarding Italian CILA coming to Ward. Presently, the Italian CILA is housed at Jefferson school. This program has been in the district for 5 years. Despite yearly modifications, it has not been successful thus far. I have had quite a few parents approach me about concerns with bringing this program to Ward. After conversations with a few of the members of the Board of Education (BOE), as well has seeing a survey that was sent home in the lower grades (k & 1), I am realizing that moving the Italian CILA to Ward could become a reality.
You may be asking yourself, why I am emailing you and why is this a concern? Bringing in Italian CILA will impact Ward in the following ways:
Adding Italian CILA will increase class sizes. In order to accommodate a full class of students, a class in each grade will more than likely be eliminated. The class that is eliminated will need to be absorbed by the remaining classes. We are looking at increasing class sizes by 3-4 students. Per the BOE, due to budget cuts, next year class sizes will increase throughout the district. This means even larger class sizes. Your thought might be that the CILA class will come out of our current population. This is not the case. We would get the Jefferson students that are outside the Ward zone, as well as any other interested students needed to make up a full class. As research has proven, class size impacts student achievement, especially at this time with the new mandated standards.
In a fiscally tight budget, where we need to make significant cuts, where are we finding additional funds for Italian CILA teachers' salaries and benefits going forward? If the funds are available, why not spend them on programs that reach more of our student populations, such as science, the arts, etc...
Italian is a beautiful heritage language, but not a language of necessity. If we are going to be a more progressive school district and invest in Foreign Language Education within our elementary schools, we should be expanding our Spanish and Mandarin programs. These are the languages that will give our students an edge in the 21st Century.
Italian CILA will not benefit a large majority of Ward School students. As per the district survey, there are only a handful of families interested. This means the program will mainly draw students from outside the Ward school zone. In an already crowded school, do we really need to add more students from outside the zone? Do we have the physical space to accommodate these students?
There is also a possible impact on the teachers at Ward. If you bring in Italian CILA, you will also have to bring in Italian CILA teachers. The teachers will have to be certified as Dual Language Italian instructors. With a tight budget, as teachers come in, seasoned Ward teachers will have to be transferred out to accommodate the program.
Currently we have Spanish FLES (Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools). This program has been very successful at Ward, yet the program has been cut every year from 5 days to 3 days to 2 days for 30 minutes periods. If the Italian CILA is brought to Ward, what happens to Spanish FLES. FLES is also used to gauge whether or not a student will be successful in Spanish CILA.
Some of the concerns from other parents, with diverse backgrounds, some being of Italian decent are:
Why is it the responsibility of Ward to salvage a program that is backed by a handful of parents, who are committed to their heritage language. Especially when there is no benefit, with the exception of social benefits.
Why is Ward the only school that is being considered for Italian CILA? Why not put it in Trinity, who happens to want the program? Why not consider Webster, Davis or Barnard (Columbus already has a CILA program)?
What message are we sending to the community and our schools in the South and West ends of the city? Aren't all the New Rochelle Schools "schools of excellence?"
If Ward were to have Italian CILA, how diverse will the classes be?
Why not consider an after school or extended day program for Italian CILA? If it is taught by a part-time teacher, who is paid hourly with no benefits, wouldn't this be more budget friendly than a full-time salaried teacher receiving benefits? Especially when the program has not been successful?
Currently Jefferson has 6 Kindergartners , 7 first graders (2 girls and 5 boys) , 15 second graders (6 boys and 9 girls) , 7 third graders (genders unknown), 10 fourth graders (genders unknown) and 15 fifth graders (genders unknown). How can we justify budgeting for this program, when in past years it has not worked. It would be the same program, with the same teachers, in a different location. All of the students in New Rochelle have been afforded the chance to enter the lottery for Italian CILA at Jefferson. Why should we invest more time and resources in a program that has proven not to work. Changing the location is not changing the model. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. And if the students drop out of the program, guess where they go -- right into our already overcrowded "regular" classes. They do not get sent back to their home school. Then they filter into Albert Leonard Middle School.
I'm hoping that all of you are on board and are equally concerned with the addition of Italian CILA to Ward. […] I would not be impacted by increased class sizes. I am 100% on board with the dual language program, but not at the expense of Ward. […] I am 100% committed to Ward, the quality of the education all of our children receive as well as their physical well-being on the playground, lunchroom, etc.
I would ask, if you are just as concerned as I am, please respond to me. I welcome any additional concerns you have. I have chosen to send this email with everyone BBC'd because I do not share email addresses without permission. If you are okay with having your email address shared, please let me know. That way everyone can see your response.
There is a BOE budget meeting at NRHS on Tuesday at 7:00 pm. It would be great if you could attend the meeting and voice your concerns.
The New Rochelle Board of Education issued the following statement regarding Italian CILA
Good evening, this is a message from the City School District of New Rochelle. This message is for parents of all current Kindergarten and First Grade students.
The City School District of New Rochelle would like to provide parents of current Kindergarten and First Grade students with the opportunity to indicate preliminary interest in potentially enrolling your child in the Italian CILA/ Dual language Program in 1st and 2nd grades, beginning in September of 2013. If there is sufficient interest across the district to create class groups approximating 25 students, we are giving consideration to relocating the Grade 1 and Grade 2 Italian Dual Language classes to Ward Elementary School.
Kindergarten and First Grade students should have received an Italian CILA Interest Form. This form is due on Friday. You can return it to your child's teacher. If you did not receive this form and you are interested in having your child be considered as a candidate for the Italian CILA program, please request the form from your child's teacher. Once again, this request is time sensitive and we are asking for all forms to be returned by Friday.