Valley Park parents disappointed by Chinese Immersion Program leaving Blue Valley School District
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (KCTV) - The Blue Valley School Board is cutting back on its Chinese Immersion Program.
The dual language program teaches children how to read and write in Mandarin. The program is currently offered at Wolf Springs Elementary and Valley Park Elementary. This week the school board approved a recommendation from the Chinese Immersion Advisory Task Force to sunset the program at Valley Park.
Some parents have told KCTV5 they’re disappointed by this decision because the program is what drew them to move to the district in the first place.
“I’ve been blown away by what the teachers have done within the first year, and he’s just getting started into the second,” said parent Audrey Morrison.
Her son just began his second year in the immersion program and she says he’s grown a lot as a Chinese speaker. He’s learned how to count past 100 and is also learning other core subjects like math, science, and social studies in Chinese.
“To get exposure to different ways of doing things, just helps to get them out of the realm of everything they know and see that there’s a whole world out there,” she said.
Emily Hall also has a child enrolled in the program. As a first-generation Taiwanese-American, she wanted her daughter to learn her native language and feel more connected to her heritage.
“I’m very disappointed, I’m in the grieving stage now because this thing has been going from the beginning of the school year and now we’re reaching to the end of the year and they give us this bad news,” said Hall.
Starting next school year, the Chinese Immersion program at Valley Park Elementary School will sunset. Hall’s youngest daughter who is going into kindergarten will not make the cut. The program will continue at Wolf Springs Elementary School located nine miles south from Valley Park’s campus.
“I don’t really know how I’m supposed to drop off two kids at the same time in the morning, it’s complicated,” said Hall.
LiYin Lan is also Taiwanese-American and moved to the United States as a child. She’s a parent to children in pre-school and was looking forward to enrolling them in the program when they started elementary school. Now, they will not have the opportunity.
“I’m concerned there’s not enough space if there’s still popular interest for her and for my one year old in the future and I’m concerned they’re also taking away resources for the program in general,” said Lan.
The district says staffing and available staff has created challenges which is why they say the task force recommended a one site model in the interest of sustainability and high quality education. In a statement, the district says:
“For over seven years, Blue Valley’s Chinese Immersion program has offered students unique bilingual skills in elementary school. Despite program successes, staffing and space issues pose challenges. To ensure Mandarin instruction’s long-term sustainability and the high-quality elementary education our community expects, transitioning to a one-site model was recommended by the task force and approved by the board as the best path forward. While acknowledging the difficulty of this change, we remain committed to securing the best educational experience for Blue Valley students.”
Grades two through five will be able to continue the program at Valley Park Elementary and the final class will exit the program at the end of the 2027-28 school year.
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