LOS ALAMITOS, CA—A federal grant may permit the Los Alamitos Unified School District to continue its bilingual-education program, David Hatten, director of pupil services, said Monday.
Although the district has received only tentative approval for the $ 161,000 Los Alamitos Transitional Bilingual Educational Program grant for the 1988-89 school year, Hatten said there is no indication that the district will not get it.
“I am confident in saying that it will be approved officially,” Hatten said. He added that the approval should come in the next six to eight weeks.
In a presentation to the Board of Education Monday, Corie Rose, bilingual coordinator, said 208 students are enrolled. They speak 17 different foreign languages. Students come from such far-flung nations as Mexico, Cambodia, Egypt, Iran, Japan and the Philippines.
“We are not a district with a majority (foreign) language,” Rose said. The original grant for the program came in 1986 and was for $ 189,000. The district sought the funding after the results of a language census, taken three years ago, showed that no foreign language was dominant.
“Part of our problem was dealing with multiple languages,” Hatten said. “We rely on families a great deal and Cal State Long Beach to help with translating material.”
Rose said teachers use gestures and pictures paired with words when teaching at the beginning level.
“You don’t need to speak the student’s primary language to teach them English,” Rose said. “There is no translation back-and-forth because that slows down the learning process.”
The same methods are being used to teach foreign languages to English-speaking students, she said.
Traditional methods stress bookwork — reading and repeating a dialogue out ofa text. The new techniques concentrate instead on classwork and student interaction to communciate ideas in English.
These are followed with “active dialogue” between the students, Rose said.
Without the federal grant, the program would be unable to continue at its current level. However, Hatten said that with the way it has grown, the program should qualify for funding until the 1990-91 school year.
In other action, the board:
Approved an application renewal to apply for funding from the state Department of Education Child Development Division for 1988-89. The district’s program is for educationally disadvantaged three 3- and four 4-year-old children. The program serves 40 children and would receive an estimated $ 73,232.
Hired architect James R. Norman to construct drawings and work with the Office of the State Architect in replacing the Los Alamitos High School air-conditioning system. This is the second stage of the $ 1.4 million project. However, Ronald Murrey, director of business and support services, said Monday that the district will have one of the air-conditioning units rebuilt rather than replaced. Murrey said that if the district is satisfied with the results, it may rebuild all of the units. This could save the district as much as $ 800,000.
The next Board of Education meeting will be March 21 at 7:30 p.m.