State's first self-governed school may survive

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  • January 16, 2014 - 6:00 PM

The details aren't clear yet, but it's looking like the state's first self-governed school will get a reprieve.

The governing board of Pierre Bottineau French Immmersion School recommended last month that the fledgling North Side school close for lack of success in finding enough qualified teachers.

But Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson said this week that closings are a board decision, and she's not ready to go there. She said she's decided to keep the school open.

"We're decided to do some things differently," she said, without elaborating.

Pressed for details, Associate Superintendent Sara Paul said that: 1) the school still will move to the Ciyview building next year; 2) it will remain a self-governed school; and 3) it will remain a French immersion school.

The school opened under a contract with the district, and offers one of the few elementary-level magnet programs available to North Side students. It has shared quarters with a Hmong-focused school at the Jordan Park building since opening last year, but the district planned to move it to accommodate growth in the Hmong program

Paul also said that the district will beef up the assistance given to its immersion schools (it also has two Spanish immerison schools and it adding a third) in finding teachers who have both teaching skill and language fluency. The Bottineau board said in December that it had exhausted possibilities for locating such teachers. The district had earlier spoken of continuing the program as French-focused but not necessarily an immersion school.

Johnson made her announcement even as immersion parents were still drafting a letter out of a Monday night meeting to send to the district. The district earlier met three times with parents to discuss the school's future.

Paul said the district so far had not had a chance to discuss with Tina Maynor, the school's director and guiding spirit, her role in the ongoing school. Maynor couldn;t be reached for comment. 

(Photo above: Bottineau Director Tina Maynor teaches students the alphabet in a school hallway.)


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