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Trustees approve new Denair Charter Academy
Program to offer dual immersion education
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The Denair Elementary Charter Academy is one step closer to reality after the Denair Unified School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved the school's creation on Thursday.

The charter school will share the current Denair Elementary School campus and traditional core program classes, but charter students will have expanded elective choices. The charter academy will also offer dual language immersion English/Spanish for kindergarten students. The class would follow the 90 percent  Spanish and 10 percent English dual immersion model, said Principal Sara Michelena. The goal is to have a 50/50 mix of English and Spanish speakers. The intent, she said, is to add a dual immersion class at successive grade levels each year as the first group of kindergartners gets older.

Response has been strong, Michelena said. Already, 36 kindergarteners have signed up for the immersion program.

“We are creating our very own, very unique program,” said Superintendent Aaron Rosander. “We will be the pre-eminent leader of this kind of education in our region.”

Trustee Sandi Dirkse said the early community reaction to the new charter has been tremendous.

“The energy and buzz around town is very positive,” she said. “I’m hearing from parents who are very excited.”

In addition to the immersion program, all DECA students also will have regular Spanish instruction, Michelena said. The new charter school will also have two 30-station computer labs to teach tech skills and would continue to focus on arts enrichment for all students. Even at the elementary level, there will be an emphasis on building a college-going culture and “assist students to become self-motivated, competent, lifelong learners.”

Trustees voted 4-0 to adopt the new charter, with Kathi Dunham-Filson absent. The proposal now goes to the state Department of Education for final approval.