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Should the Milton Public Schools Cap Grade One Enrollment in French Immersion?

With enrollment trends favoring French Immersion over the English with Spanish program at the elementary level, the Milton Public Schools are considering a cap on the French program.

In recent weeks, the Milton School Committee has increased discussion of adapting the lottery system or capping the district’s grade one French Immersion enrollment to address an imbalance with the English program.

Since the 2008-2009 school year, an increased number of students have enrolled in the French Immersion program in the Milton Public Schools over the English with Spanish program.

According to an Elementary Program Assignment presentation, posted on miltonps.org, 54 percent of students enrolled in the French program in 2011-2012. The projected numbers for the upcoming school year indicate 66 percent French and 34 percent English enrollment.

According to the district, this has created larger French classes and smaller ones on the English side in the four elementary schools. This year, English classes will average 14.9 students with 25.1 students in each French class.

In 2010, a World Language Committee was established to address the enrollment trends.

As of 2010, a fixed number of French and English classes were set for each school. A lottery system was set up to fill those classes and auxiliary classes were created to accommodate choices for students.

The alternative plan, which was recently endorsed by Superintendent Mary Gormley for the future, suggested a cap on the number of French Immersion students.

The following is Gormley’s recommendation per the presentation: “In order to continue to offer two robust programs for Milton Public School students the district should adapt the current Lottery system and implement a “Lottery/ Capping” model as developed by the 2010 World Language Committee to ensure a quality educational environment for all children through balanced program enrollment.”

The School Committee is continuing to gather public input and data to make a decision at a future meeting.

A Frequently Asked Questions page has been established on the Milton Public Schools' website for the administration to address concerns and questions.

How do you feel about the potential cap on French Immersion? Do you have an alternative solution? Are there other ways to adapt the lottery system?

Cara August 14, 2012 at 04:21 PM
I wish the Milton Public schools would work on improving the English program rather than forcing people into it. I would consider an English program for my child who will enter grade 1 in 2013, but I need to be convinced it is an academically engaging and rigorous program, not just one with more seats available. Make the English program a STEM program or add some other selling point to make it an equal contender with the French program and people will self select into it with no need for a lottery.
Adam Roberts (Editor) August 14, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Thanks for sharing your opinion, Cara. Do other people agree that improving the English program would make a lottery unnecessary?
Elaine Craghead August 17, 2012 at 10:57 AM
I think that Cara is correct. I read an article in the Milton Times about Spanish language classes for those enrolled in the English program, and if this were truly a viable program, I would strongly consider enrolling my child in the English program in 2014 rather than French Immersion. As it stands now, however, grades one and two only have 30 minutes of language instruction in an entire week, which is a truly inadequate start to "learning" a language. It seems that the English program has been neglected to some extent--why not make it more robust and attractive and work on getting the word out to Milton residents? As it is, most people who move here for the schools do so for the French Immersion program--my partner and I di--because it's the one that they know about and the one that is attractive. The students' MCAS scores are higher, too, so at this point why wouldn't parents opt for the FI program? Yet a lottery system is ultimately not going to work--many people moved here years ago, like me, paying our taxes and believing that the investment would not only support those in the schools currently, but that there would be a personal benefit to come: choice. The lottery will take away my choice, and it will become simply the luck of the draw. Many parents will be frustrated and disgruntled at best, and I'll bet that the lottery system, when it's advertised to prospective home buyers, is not going to seem like an attractive option. It wouldn't have to me.
Mr. Allerton August 17, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Absolutely opposed to a cap. No reason to dumb down, no reason to limit opportunities of children who can handle the challenge.

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