Following concerted opposition by parents, Montgomery ISD has decided to not consolidate its dual-language program for the 2020-2021 school year, a proposal that would have moved the program from two campuses into one.
The district announced its decision Oct. 30 at two different dual-language parent meetings. The proposal was to move MISD's dual-language program, which is currently offered at Stewart Creek and Lincoln elementary schools, to one campus, Montgomery Elementary School. The program is intended for elementary school students who want to learn in both English and Spanish.
"The decision to keep dual language as is at both Stewart Creek Elementary and Lincoln Elementary was based on parent feedback through face-to-face meetings, parent phone calls and emails, and through the surveys that MISD sent out to all dual language families and teachers," MISD Director of Special Programs Jada Mullins said in an email. "Survey results were reviewed in detail and shared with campus principals and teachers. It is our desire to continue serving our dual language students through the current model and to continue to strengthen the program based on all of the feedback we received. We greatly appreciate the support and partnership we have with our Dual Language families and educators."
Parents who attended the meeting expressed relief and support of the decision. The issue has been ongoing since at least July, when Community Impact Newspaper first reported on MISD's announcement of the proposal to consolidate the program. Since then, the district has wavered on announcing a final decision. Parents did not know the fate of the program until Oct. 30.
“The children that attended [the Oct. 30 meeting] were so very happy to be able to stay at their home school,” said Amy Jones, parent of a dual-language program student.
MISD had proposed the consolidation primarily to tighten its budget, as Community Impact Newspaper previously reported, although the district has not indicated how much money could have been saved with the consolidation. According to the district, benefits of consolidating include increased teacher collaboration and planning; increased shared resources; and maximum use of facilities, transportation and staff.
Jones added she believes MISD’s decision not to consolidate was partially a result of efforts by parents of dual-language students. Parents showed up in droves to several school board meetings, including an Oct. 15 meeting where parents expressed concern that consolidation would lower program participation.
“I’m fairly certain the district didn’t want or need more negative publicity—hence, part of the decision,” Jones said. “We were also told by a board member, in his three years [on the board], they have never seen such a passionate group of parents, with emails, texts, calls and speaking at board meetings.”
Parents also voiced support for MISD’s promise to provide better communication moving forward regarding the program—for example, having a Spanish-speaking person present at registration and promoting the program as a whole, Jones said.
Dual-language parent Christina Sato also voiced support and gratitude towards the superintendent and board of trustees.
"We are so pleased that our administrators will be working with teachers to hear their ideas on how to make the most effective improvements moving forward," Sato said in an email. "My hope is that the district will continue to rely on teachers’ input regarding the best possible strategies for success in the classroom, as every program and class has varying needs. While we understand the need to curb spending and minimize the deficit, we must always take into account how possible cuts and drastic changes could negatively effect our teachers and students."
However, Krista Patton, a dual-language parent, said that although she was happy with the result, she is concerned with what will happen to the program after the next school year. The district announced it will not consolidate the program for the 2020-2021 year, but it is unclear what might occur after.