West Ada firm on Chinese immersion decision

Posted at 5:30 PM, Apr 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-08 19:30:22-04

The West Ada School District is standing firm on their decision to phase out a Chinese immersion program taught at a school in West Boise.

At a meeting on April 8th, parents were visibly angry and upset at the decision.

“This is a slap in the face for the families of Gateway. It’s a slap in the face for the Treasure Valley and it’s a slap in the face for the state of Idaho,”  Co-chair for the Chinese immersion parent committee Michael Mosher said.

A district spokesman explained that the decision to phase out the program was because of costs.

While the demand is high for the program at the early grade levels, officials said there simply isn’t enough interest for middle school.

Officials also credited the decision by the simple fact that finding qualified teachers that are fluent in Mandarin is difficult. Parents argued that they would try and find ways to fund the program themselves and even work to find qualified teachers from Northwest Nazarene University.

“Over the course of seven years, the program has never attracted enough kids to really make it viable,” Eric Exline of the West Ada District explained. “If you don’t have the numbers, you’re never going to be able to economically continue to run it. No public system, no charter system to afford to staff at a ratio of seventeen kids to one teacher.”

Now, parents are facing a decision of what to do next with their kids and where to place their kids to continue their education.

“We will leave.  Absolutely. We’ll put our daughter in a different school. We have already looked at the possibility because of this. We have to do what’s best for kids,” Mosher explained.

Parents have started a petition online to keep the program. That petition already has over 200 signatures. 
But district officials say that signatures don't translate to enrollment numbers.