Birmingham Considering Spanish-English Charter School

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Charter Schools are scheduled to open in Alabama by the start of the next school year. In Birmingham, at least one of these non-traditional schools funded with public money may take on a new mission: Spanish immersion through an approach often called “dual-language,” where students don’t just learn Spanish, but other subjects in Spanish. It would be the first charter of its kind in the state.

The Birmingham City Schools district has to start requesting proposals for next school year by November 1. School leaders at a Tuesday meeting discussed converting at least one existing school to a dual language charter school.

“We know, when we look at other countries, a number of them well prepare their students, even at the grammar school level and beyond, to be able to speak a second language,” says Superintendent Kelley Castlin-Gacutan.

The Birmingham school board is a state-approved charter school authorizer. That means the district can approve or deny new, or “start-up,” charter schools. The school system can also convert one of its existing schools into a charter school.

On Tuesday, board members said they still have questions about the impact of charter schools. Some also discussed the need for more community input. The board is planning another meeting on charter schools next week.