This school will become the 3rd in SLO County to adopt bilingual education program

Baywood Elementary in Los Osos will become the third grade school in San Luis Obispo County to adopt a bilingual education program.

In a 7-0 vote, the San Luis Coastal Unified School District’s Board of Trustees approved the program Tuesday, meaning the school’s kindergartners will learn in 90 percent Spanish and 10 percent English starting in fall 2020.

Only Baywood kindergarten will have dual immersion next year, with a multi-year rollout, adding one grade level each year.

The model increases the use of English by 10 percent each year, leading to a 50 percent Spanish and 50 percent English model in the fourth grade.

The decision was overwhelmingly supported by parents, 71 percent of whom supported the change in a district survey.

“We will actively recruit bilingual teachers for elementary, middle and high school positions moving forward as we fully develop a K-12 pathway for dual-immersion opportunities in San Luis Coastal,” said Eric Prater, the district’s superintendent. “This will allow future students on the coast and in the city to graduate fully fluent in English and Spanish.”

Baywood becomes the third elementary school after Pacheco in San Luis Obispo and Georgia Brown in Paso Robles to implement dual immersion.

Parents listen to a presentation about bilingual education at a meeting Thursday. The school district board approved bilingual education at Baywood Elementary in Los Osos on Tuesday. Nick Wilson

The details of the enrollment system is still under formation.

But the board approved a recommendation to give priority to students who live within the Baywood school boundary, younger siblings of current Baywood students and coastal primary Spanish-speaking English learner students.

“Enrollment is a very tricky issue because we won’t know until spring of 2020 who plans to attend kindergarten at Baywood,” Prater said. “We will continue to refine our process — which might include a lottery system eventually, depending on the coastal demand.”

Prater said that other board-approved recommendations included that:

Students in the Del Mar or Monarch Grove boundaries may apply to Baywood or Pacheco.

Students who live within the Baywood school boundary can opt out of the program and attend either Monarch Grove or Del Mar Elementary schools.

Existing special education programs on the Baywood campus should continue.

The existing preschool on the Baywood campus should continue with the exploration of elements of bilingual education.

A long-term comprehensive enrollment plan should be developed.

District staff from Baywood will have priority to transfer to other schools in the district, but the goal is to keep them at Baywood. The district also will look for opportunities to enhance Spanish at the middle and high school levels district-wide.

Startup costs for adding the dual-immersion program at Baywood are estimated to be about $144,000 annually for the first six years.

The district will apply for a California Department of Education grant targeting school districts that develop bilingual programs.

“We expect to receive these monies (around $250,000) once they release the applications,” Prater said. “Meanwhile, we will create middle and high school bilingual pathways in SLO and on the coast.”

Progress updates will be made before the board over the next few months as program details are worked out.

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Nick Wilson covers the city of San Luis Obispo and has been a reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo since 2004. He also writes regularly about K-12 education, Cal Poly, Morro Bay and Los Osos. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley and is originally from Ojai.