ADDENDUM - January 14, 2014
Please note that this petition is the collaborative effort of many concerned parents from several elementary schools. When preparing the petition, we made every attempt to verify our facts and figures. When several of us separately contacted Lincoln Center in December, we were only given a link to the 2012 Dual Language Report in response. On Monday we had a chance to sit down with Superintendent Forcella to further attempt to vet our numbers.
We have received complaints from some of the Mandarin DL parents that the numbers contained in the petition are outdated and therefore misleading. It is most surely not our intention to mislead or misinform. We stated that the cost per Mandarin DL pupil is nearly $1,000 extra per pupil. That figure ($975) was taken directly from the 2012 Dual Language Report and no updated number has been calculated. This was confirmed with Dr. Forcella.
At the December 2nd Task Force meeting, a School District Representative informed our table that there were only 13 children in the Mandarin DL 4th grade. We have since learned that there are actually 23 children in that grade. We sincerely regret this error.
However, even if a few numbers change, and even if the cost per pupil upon reevaluation is less than $975, that does not change the fundamental argument that we can't responsibly continue to disproportionately spend on a limited enrichment program for a few children when we have more urgent needs that are not being met for the vast majority of our students.
Talking points for the 2014-15 budget that were released recently communicate that we will be starting our budget cycle with a $2.2 million shortfall and that cash reserves used to cover the shortfall for the past three years are no longer available. We feel that in this economic climate of incredibly scarce resources, we simply can no longer afford to sustain the Mandarin DL program.
We respectfully request that the CHCCS Board please vote to discontinue funding for the Mandarin Dual Language Program (MDLP) at Glenwood Elementary, effective at the end of the current academic year (2013-14). The MDLP benefits only about 2% of our overall student population. This equates to only 156 out of more than 5,800 elementary school students. The cost per MDLP student is nearly $1,000 more than a traditional student. In addition, the specialized recruiting costs for the MDLP faculty take 60% of the district's entire recruiting budget.
Clearly, the unique needs of this specialized program require an inequitable share of district resources. With school budgets stretched to the limit, we strongly support the fairest allocation possible of our limited resources to more effectively serve the entire community of CHCCS students.
Since 2002, the CHCCS has funded a Mandarin Dual Language Program (MDLP) for the elementary grades, currently housed at Glenwood Elementary School. Originally funded in part by a federal grant, it is now solely funded by our increasingly distressed public school system.
In the intervening years there have been significant issues with teacher and student attrition. The current enrollment for the 4th and 5th grades combined is less than 30 students, making the cost-per-student especially prohibitive. In addition, the MDLP student population is predominantly high-achieving and not in need of extra support. These funds should be more equitably allocated toward more fully supporting our entire student population, including our most at-risk students.
The immediate issue before the School Board is that Glenwood Elementary is significantly overcrowded, in part due to the expansion of the MDLP. Relieving this overcrowding will likely involve a massive redistricting of several hundred students (some of whom may have just been redistricted this year). At a minimum, at least a few hundred students would need to be uprooted from their current schools. If the MDLP were to be dismantled, there would be a natural reassignment, where these 156 students could return to their original schools. This would relieve the overcrowded conditions at Glenwood.
We the below signed hereby request that the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board vote to discontinue funding the MDLP. Our district’s mission is to “ensure that all students acquire the knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes to achieve their learning potential.” Continuing to fund the MDLP puts the wants of a small group above the welfare and stability of the rest of the school district. It is unfair and inequitable to further disrupt and deprive so many for the benefit of so few.