No one is on the waiting list for entrance into the Chinese Immersion Program, at least according to the Board of Education. At its Monday night business meeting, the board sought to clarify an issue which had confused some Potomac parents.
According to standard Board of Education policy, foreign language immersion programs are filled by lottery, anyone who does not get a seat in the class is put on a waiting list, should a seat become available. On April 1, the list is cleared with the rationale being that students entering the program that late in the school year would be at a disadvantage.
Last year was the first time the Potomac Elementary’s Chinese Immersion program had a lottery, and so the first time it had a formal waiting list.
There was, however, another list. “The board should know that Potomac Elementary School maintained an informal list of students interested in entry to next year’s Chinese Immersion program,” said Larry Bowers, chief operating officer for Montgomery County Public Schools.
Until last year, the program had only been available to students at Potomac Elementary. Then the board opened it to admit two out-of-boundary students in both kindergarten and first grade. Earlier this year, the board voted to open the immersion program and make the entire program a county-wide, lottery based program.
However, some Potomac parents had already indicated an interest in enrolling their children in next year’s class. If the informal waiting list had been allowed to stand, the majority of next year’s class would have been students from Potomac.
Staff brought the question of what to do with the informal list to the board for clarification.
“I thought we were pretty clear,” said Pat O’Neill (Dist. 3). The board formally resolved that it does not recognize the validity of the informal waiting list.
“This, in fact, captures the original intent of the Board,” said Board President Sharon Cox (At Large).
Board member Charles Haughey (At Large) explained that the confusion is likely related to the change from a school-based program to a countywide program. “The Chinese Immersion Program has never been quite like the other Immersion Programs,” he said.