Flagstaff moving ahead with plans despite Prop. 203

Flagstaff, Ariz.—Flagstaff educators are moving ahead with a plan for a new bilingual magnet school despite passage of a state initiative requiring English immersion programs.

Michael Fillerup, director of bilingual and English as a second language programs for Flagstaff Unified School District, says the school is expected to serve about 50 kindergartners in the fall.

Fillerup noted this week that state Attorney General Janet Napolitano recently ruled that the initiative doesn’t affect Native American dual-language programs.

The Flagstaff school is to teach students whose native language is Spanish, Navajo or English.

“Prop. 203 is pretty vague right now,” Fillerup said. “We’re proceeding as if the dual-language programs will be allowed.

“The bottom line is there’s a lot of interest in this and we’ll keep moving forward” until the district hears differently, he added. “We want to get (the school) started, because if we get it started, I think it will be successful. This thing is really going to grow in our community.”

Twenty-three students are pre-registered for the Spanish-English program, and 15 are pre-registered for the Navajo-English program, he said.

He said a number of parents whose children are too young now have expressed interest in future enrollment as well.

Fillerup said the district expects to hire two teachers and is looking to an elementary school for the three classrooms that will be needed.

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