SIOUX FALLS, SD
The construction of a new Spanish-speaking school is tied to Monday night's school consolidation vote by the Sioux Falls School Board.
The proposal comes from a big push of passionate parents with students already immersed in the program.
The Parent Advocates for Spanish Immersion (PASI) organization is highly organized, meeting monthly with its board of directors and raising thousands of dollars as a non-profit.
And Monday night, many of members will speak in support of the program already backed by the district superintendent.
Shannon Graber once taught in a French immersion program out of state and after moving to Sioux Falls, she helped pioneer the popular Spanish Immersion program. Her son's been in it since the very beginning.
"He reads and writes and speaks Spanish at 4th grade at a highly functioning level. Fabulous," Graber said.
Graber is one of many parents backing the proposal to harness the program's 300 students spread out between Rosa Parks and Robert Frost Elementary Schools and put them in a new school.
She says the single site will allow the students to get more out of the curriculum.
"To be housed under one roof is the ideal learning environment for a language program that can be language rich throughout the whole school," Graber said.
But with the proposal tied into the school consolidation vote, the project could be shot down if the school board doesn't want to close three schools.
If that happens, Graber insists parents won't give up on a Spanish-speaking school.
"It is definitely the best thing to be at one site, a language-rich environment where as much Spanish can happen in the hallways, the announcements and the assemblies where language can flourish. We will do our best to continue to make that happen," Graber said.
Currently the program fills 12classrooms, grades kindergarten through 4th. Opponents argue the proposed school, set to be built near STI, would disrupt how some students get to school.