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Osborn expansion topic of upcoming public forums
Parents pack a Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting in January to voice concerns over the District's plan to move Osborn sixth graders to Dutcher Middle School. - photo by Journal file photo

A number of community forums next week will address eight proposals regarding the expansion of Turlock Unified School District’s Dual Immersion Program at Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy — one of which faced backlash at a public discussion in January.

A plan was presented to the TUSD Board of Trustees last month to relocate all Osborn sixth grade classes to Dutcher Middle School as early as next year, where four existing classrooms will need to be prepared cosmetically and technologically.

The District also proposed further expansion of the dual immersion program by developing a strand at Wakefield Elementary School for transitional kindergarten and kindergarten classes, which would open up 24 additional slots for potential students as early as the 2016-2017 academic year.

“These are 24 slots we would have on a waiting list at Osborn that we would be able to accommodate at Wakefield,” reported assistant superintendent of educational services Dana Trevethan, who presented the information in January.

Concerns already voiced by the public ranged from transportation issues to the notion that sixth graders are too young to transition into the social arena that accompanies middle school.

However, the biggest issue surrounding the proposal was the lack of communication between the District and stakeholders.

“One of the things that I found a little disturbing is that it required me as a parent to hear by rumor that this was on the Board agenda tonight,” said parent Jeff Kettering in January. “We are at the end of January and we are first hearing about these proposed changes. With what I heard from the District, they want this to happen in August. Where is the true public process going to come in here? There is no time.”

“What about these students who will be moved from Osborn to Dutcher? Do we have any feedback from these student or parents, what their thoughts are?” questioned Board member Harinder Grewal in January. “I think it’s critical to have feedback from parents and students before we rush into this.”

With these comments in mind, TUSD Educational Services intends to do just that—collect feedback—at a series of public forums next week.

“The forums will provide us with an opportunity to clarify, listen to concerns, and a receive suggestions in order to be best prepared to summarize and share findings and best options for students, staff and parents with members of our TUSD community and Board,” said Trevethan.

“The community can expect to receive information that will hopefully clarify any misconceptions about any of the current options being considered while having the opportunity to ask questions, provide input and share ideas,” Trevethan added.

Trevethan reports that during the public forums, the District will be providing an overview of the eight current proposals on the table, while also reviewing some of the relevant information and data that was presented at the public discussion in January.

The District is currently exploring eight different options, four more than originally presented.

Options range from gradually downsizing the number of kindergarten classes at Osborn to return to original dual immersion capacity, to expanding the program with the eventual goal of two schools in TUSD, both of which would be fully devoted to two-way bilingual immersion within a magnet setting.

“The volume of students on the 10-acre site is just more than can be dealt with on a rational basis,” said facilities planner and safety coordinator Roger Smith. “Something has to be addressed in order to alleviate that pressure. We have to make some kind of shift to address that overcrowd.”

Smith reported that if the District opts to do nothing, Osborn is expected to host upwards of 1,026 students next year.

The TUSD parent and community forums regarding the expansion of TUSD’s dual Immersion program will kick off on Monday in the Osborn cafeteria. A second meeting will be held on Tuesday in the Wakefield Elementary School’s cafeteria, with the forums culminating on Wednesday in the Dutcher Middle School cafeteria.

All forums are scheduled from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, call 634-0843.