District 51 to spend $1.2 million on Dual Immersion Academy expansion

The inaugural class of the Dual Immersion Academy will be the first to use a new middle school expansion for the alternative school that next year will be housed at Bookcliff Middle School.

This year’s sixth-graders at the English-Spanish language school were kindergartners six years ago when the school was founded, District 51 Superintendent Tim Mills said. Those students will be the first seventh-graders next year at an expansion facility to be built on to Bookcliff that will house sixth through eighth grades of the Dual Immersion Academy.

Mills told the board of education last month it had always been the plan to expand Dual Immersion Academy, 552A W. Main St., one grade level each year so eventually students enrolled at the school could attend from kindergarten through middle school.

Construction on the middle-school expansion will cost $1.2 million, funded from 2004 bond and certificate of participation funds, and is set for a midsummer completion in time for the 2009-10 school year. Grades kindergarten through five will stay at the current facility.

In June, Cal Clark, director of maintenance for the district, presented a design plan for the expansion that was 9,560 square feet including a regular classroom and science classroom for each grade level.

The addition would be on the east side of the building, Clark said, and the new construction would blend in with the existing building at Bookcliff.

“We teach children the same standards as any other school in District 51,” said Dual Immersion Academy Principal Rosa Culver. “The only difference is the students are taught in two languages.”

Culver said the school enrolls 24 “English-dominant” and 24 “Spanish-dominant” students each year.

The school employs two teachers at each grade level, one English-speaking teacher and one Spanish-speaking teacher, and the students spend about 70 percent of class time in classes taught in their dominant language and 30 percent in classes taught in their second language.

By fourth and fifth grade, she said, class time is divided about 50 percent between the two languages.

“The ultimate goal is to have bilingual and biliterate students by the fifth grade,” Culver said.

The school enrolled 264 students this year, Culver said, but the school is doing away with its rolling, wait list admissions this year in favor of a one-time enrollment period starting in February when interested parents must file applications.

Siblings of current students will be given priority, she said, while the remaining spots will be first-come, first-served.


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