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Boundary to change for popular Vancouver elementary school

Franklin Elementary hosts Mandarin immersion program

By , Columbian Education Reporter
Published:
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Benjamin Franklin Elementary School
Benjamin Franklin Elementary School Photo Gallery

Learn about Franklin Elementary’s Mandarin language immersion

The Vancouver Public Schools board approved a boundary adjustment Tuesday night that effectively will send 37 students from Benjamin Franklin Elementary School to the Fruit Valley Community Learning Center.

The boundary adjustment affects students who live west of Fruit Valley Road in Lakeside Mobile Estates. The mobile home park, 6610 N.W. Whitney Road, is 1.9 miles from the Fruit Valley school campus and 2.47 miles from the Franklin campus.

Incoming fourth- and fifth-grade students have the option to remain at Franklin Elementary until they are in middle school.

The school district is adjusting the boundary because of increasing enrollment demands at Franklin Elementary, which hosts the district’s Mandarin immersion program. Total enrollment at Franklin Elementary is 389 students. Of those, 238 students — 61 percent — are enrolled in the Mandarin immersion magnet program, said Franklin Principal Laura Dilley.

“A combination of the Mandarin program and some growth in the area have contributed to the need for portables,” said Todd Horenstein, the district’s assistant superintendent.

During the past two school years, the district added three double portable classroom units to the Franklin campus. According to a city regulation, additional portables may not be added to the site without constructing additional restrooms, Horenstein said.

The 37 students moving from Franklin to Fruit Valley will be leaving a school with a relatively low poverty rate and heading to one that has the highest poverty rate in the county. At Franklin Elementary, 31.3 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch; at Fruit Valley elementary, 89.9 percent of students qualify. Districtwide, that rate is 53 percent.

Historically, students who lived west of Fruit Valley Road attended the Fruit Valley school until 1999, when Franklin Elementary had low enrollment, and the boundary was moved to allow more Fruit Valley students in.

Only a smattering of public schools, including Portland Public Schools and Bellevue School District, offer Mandarin immersion programs, Dilley said.

Franklin Elementary has a waiting list for district students wanting to enroll in its Mandarin immersion program. Its Mandarin program began in 2009-2010 with 36 kindergarten students. At each grade level, Franklin Elementary has one class of English-only students. Most grade levels have two classes of Mandarin immersion students. Beginning fall 2016, the Mandarin program will have two classes per grade level from kindergarten through fifth grade.

“We’ll be at capacity at that point,” said Dilley. “The portables aren’t completely full yet, but they will be.”

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