Parents resist bilingual program move

WORCESTER—Some City View Elementary School parents are fighting a decision to move the school’s bilingual program at the end of the year to the recently opened Roosevelt Elementary School.

Teachers in the program have also filed a grievance, suggesting that they will face financial difficulties moving from City View, which has an extended day schedule, to Roosevelt, which does not.

Teachers in extended-day programs are generally paid from $5,000 to $6,000 extra in salary per year.

The City View program is one of two schools offering bilingual students in the North Quadrant area of the city. The other program is at Belmont Street Community School.

School officials, noting that an agreement had been reached years ago with the city’s bilingual parental committee to create a bilingual program in every new elementary school, said there are not enough Hispanic students to support three North Quadrant programs.

City View parents, they said, were therefore given the option to stay at City View or to enroll at Roosevelt.

According to George Munoz, director of the city’s school choice program, a majority of the parents decided to move to Roosevelt.

It wasn’t feasible to continue a program at City View with the remaining parents,” he said.

But Edith Rendon, who has two children in the City View bilingual program, said parents were not given any real options.

She has gathered the signatures of more than 70 parents and other family members to prove her point.

We were told the program was going to be closed at the end of the year,” she said. We weren’t asked whether or not it should be.”

Busing students to Roosevelt, as the administration has offered, will be disruptive to both students and parents, Ms. Rendon said.

The schedule (extended-day program) is very important to us,” she said. Our work schedules are linked to the school’s schedule.”

The decision to put a bilingual program in every new elementary school was made to alleviate concerns that too many Hispanic children were being bused to programs outside of their neighborhoods, she said.

In this case, the school system is exacerbating the problem by requiring parents to enroll at Roosevelt, Ms. Rendon said.

Parents embrace City View as their neighborhood school, not just as place that holds a bilingual program, she said.

Many people have doubts and fears about moving to a new building in which they may face isolation and other adjustment problems.”

School Committee member Philip J. Niddrie said that when he voted recently at a subcommittee meeting to add a bilingual program at Roosevelt, he did not know the decision would eliminate the extended-day program at City View.

My understanding was that it was going to be a new program,” Mr. Niddrie said. I did not know we were cutting out another program, or that it was going to be divisive.”

According to Louis J. Cornacchioli, executive secretary of the Educational Association of Worcester, the teachers’ grievance is more than a financial one.

The administration said they were doing what was in the best interest of the city, but the best interest of the city is not being served when you remove an additional 50 minutes of instruction from bilingual kids who are having problems scoring on the MCAS test,” he said.

That is not educationally sound. That is one on the points we are making to the administration.”

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