Spanish Immersion Program at government hill threatened by budget cuts by milagro delgado huerta
The school district is estimating a General Fund shortfall of approximately $68 million and there are concerns among parents and Government Hill school officials about the possibility of the Spanish immersion program being cut due to budget cuts.
Government Hill is a diverse community located between Anchorage and the JBER military base.Their school has a bilingual program, which has been very successful among students for several decades. Julie Santaella, Government Hill’s principal, explained: “We are the only dual language immersion program in Anchorage. 50% native speakers and 50% monolingual English speakers. I believe one hundred percent in our program. Students graduate fluently in two languages. I also believe in our community; we will find a solution to keep our immersion program funded and running.”
Parents express their full support for the language program to continue. “We cannot lose Government Hill; it has been the only school where my son Mateo has felt that he belongs. Spanish is his first language. It’s been an amazing school for us! Come and support our GH community. These children deserve the right to a better education. This should be a priority of ASD, not a consideration,” Daniela Villa said. Among other opinions: “GH is the best school, all my four children went there. Great program and staff.” “Government Hill is an excellent school, in addition to having a good Spanish immersion program, it has excellent teachers... I hope they will consider continuing the program.”
It is noteworthy that the cost of the GH immersion program is significantly lower than other immersion programs. This program allows students coming to Anchorage from Spanish-speaking countries to be role models in the community.
ASD presented several alternatives ASD presented several options on how to handle this deficit to the School Board, one of the alternatives was through comments made via a questionnaire either by phone or in writing. This survey of priorities and budget 2024 for the community aimed to integrate parents in the search for proposals that were made known thanks to the massive attendance of parents and other community members in a meeting with the school board on October 4, to demonstrate support for the immersion program from kindergarten through eighth grade. “We also continue to fight for the extension of immersion to grade 12, as well as to make our voice heard to legislators and government, because there is a need to continue advocating for state funds to increase the amount of money the district receives for each student,” the school principal said. Government Hill will be celebrating its 30th anniversary of a long tradition of excellence in education programs in Alaska next year.
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