White Rock Elementary School Principal Grace Hess and others updated the Waukesha School Board Wednesday night on plans to move White Rock students to other schools next year due to White Rock becoming an early childhood school.
With the change, about 235 students will have to be moved from White Rock to other schools. About 80 of the 235 students are currently in the White Rock attendance area, Hess said in an earlier interview, with the rest coming from other areas of the city.
The students will be placed in their home school or in another area school that offers a bilingual program, according to Hess. For bilingual services, the district will be split into four quadrants, north, south, east and west.
One elementary school in each of those quadrants will offer a two-way dual language program: Banting, Heyer, Blair and new for next year, Bethesda. The two-way dual language program is where Spanish and English speakers learn the language while also learning their native language.
Heyer and Blair will offer a one-way dual language program in which Spanish-speaking students learn English. Hadfield will have itinerant or intensive ESL services as necessary.
“We’re looking at addresses, and we’re looking at programs,” Hess told the school board. An additional factor is parent choice, she said. The school will be meeting with parents to discuss the changes and provide information.
“We want to be able to provide as much information and make as seamless a transition as possible for families,” Hess said. “We want to be respectful of their questions as well as provide them with ample information so that they can make a sound decision.”
With the help of new software, Hess hopes to complete the job of determining where students will go within the next month.
One concern for School Board Member Steve Edlund is space at the schools that would be getting the new students. Hess said they would make sure there is space available at the receiving school.
“We’re looking at all that information … While, for example, we have 100 kids that are maybe zoned for Hadfield, they won’t be able to receive them. So we have to look at programs, at the quadrants. We’re looking the boundaries, so the numbers are equitable between the north and south, which would be Banting and Heyer, or possibly even Blair and Bethesda, depending on their address,” she said.
Also, she said, some of those schools have K-4 programs which will be moving to White Rock next year, freeing up classrooms.
Bethesda Elementary School Adds Dual Language Program
One of the schools that will be receiving White Rock students is Bethesda Elementary. Next year, Bethesda will have a two-way dual language program for kindergarten and first grades. Principal Randy Kunkel the school has been planning ways to welcome the new students and families.
Staff members have been receiving professional development about bilingual education and dual language programs, Kunkel said. Also, the school’s site council, two members of which attended the school board meeting, has developed a monthly action plan to get ready for the new students and changes at the school. They also visited Banting Elementary to see how their dual language program works.
The school is striving to make the newcomers feel welcome, according to Kunkel.
“Bethesda has a rich history of making everyone feel welcome and have a sense of community and we’re committed to making that available to anyone who comes through our doors,” Kunkel said.
Christine Hedstrom, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, said that she will be working with current White Rock teachers to determine their placement for next year. The teachers were asked to give information about their preferences and she will be working through those preferences determining where there are openings and finding the best matches.
“Everyone understands, I think, that in the end it’s unlikely that everyone would get their first choice or best preference but we’re going to work very hard to make sure that good matches are made, if not for next school year, for coming school years,” she said.