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Illinois to decide whether to continue Mandarin immersion

March 11, 2012

Dist. 220 parents say funding Chinese program would create hardships

In the minds of many parents in Barrington Unit District 220, it’s an either-or decision that awaits school board members Tuesday when they choose between continuing a fledgling Chinese language immersion program or keeping class sizes in check.

While most say they have nothing against the Chinese program, they believe the $243,000 it could cost would prevent the district from maintaining appropriate teacher-student ratios in other classrooms.

“Don’t forget about the general education classroom,” said Mary Margaret Olson, a retired teacher whose granddaughters attend North Barrington School. “Having been in education myself, I know you can’t run these programs on soft money — grant money — because it isn’t always there year to year.”

The Chinese immersion program is on the chopping block after the district learned last month it would no longer receive a federal grant to fund it. The program, in its first year, teaches Mandarin Chinese to students beginning in kindergarten and potentially through high school. After graduation, the students would have an option to continue the program at the University of Illinois.

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