Tooele County discontinuing German, Russian, Chinese in DLI program

Nov 15, 2023, 3:00 PM

Students walk to their buses following school at Rose Springs Elementary in Erda, Tooele County, on...

Students walk to their buses following school at Rose Springs Elementary in Erda, Tooele County, on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. (Steve Griffin, Deseret News)

(Steve Griffin, Deseret News)

TOOELE, Utah — Tooele County school officials are discontinuing several Dual Language Immersion programs next year, specifically removing the Russian, Chinese, and German languages.

The Tooele County School Board announced the change during a board of education meeting on Tuesday.  Beginning Jan. 12, 2024, new first-grade students will not be able to enroll in Russian, German, or Chinese languages. 

Jordan Rawlings, who has three children in the Russian language program, was at the meeting and said she was frustrated about the announcement.

“I was not very happy,” Rawlings told KSL NewsRadio. “And then at the meeting, my mind just kept going crazy about things I wanted to say. But I was at the bottom of three papers of names signed up to talk if there was time.”

Why the DLI program is changing 

The district sent a message to parents explaining the decision. The explanation is also posted on the Tooele County School District website

“These necessary changes are being made to strengthen the DLI program across the entire district … We are dedicated to ensuring all TCSD students have access to the best possible education.”

Rawlings says she understands the district’s explanation. However, she feels that better advertisement and communication could’ve increased enrollment in the program. 

“They’re not getting the word out there why they should do it, the benefits to the kids that it’s not any additional work to the parents,” said Rawlings. “So [parents] don’t even know anything about it.”

The classes aren’t going away immediately. Instead, the district said they will be phased out over the next 12 years. Every student currently in the German, Russian, or Chinese language programs will have the opportunity to continue studying the language through graduation.

That said, starting January 2024 no new students can enroll in those languages. 

“This decision is based on careful examination of enrollment and attrition data, reflecting the district’s dedication to addressing challenges and fostering a DLI program that meets the needs of both current and future students,” according to a press release from the district. 

Dr. Mark Ernst, Superintendent of Schools for Tooele County School District, said he’s committed to creating a thriving program. 

“These decisions reflect our commitment to addressing challenges and creating a thriving DLI program. Our goal is to provide an enriched educational experience while balancing opportunities for all Tooele County School District students,” Ernst said in the press release. 

What’s next?

According to the press release, starting next year the elementary DLI enrollment will continue through their accompanying feeder junior high and high schools. 

In the Tooele area, Northlake and Middle Canyon will offer Spanish and Sterling will offer Portuguese. 

Middle Canyon’s Spanish DLI program is expected to feed into the new Deseret Peak High School in 2025 pending boundary finalization. 

Rose Springs, in the Stansbury area, will offer Portuguese. And in the Grantsville area, Anna Smith will have Spanish and Gransville will offer French. 

Also, the district states they “are making multiple efforts to ensure DLI teachers have opportunities for continued employment within the district.”

These efforts include reducing only one language teacher position each year. Plus, qualified teachers will be offered other positions within the district.

Although three languages are being removed, other languages will remain as part of the program. Tooele County schools will continue teaching Spanish, Portuguese, and French. 

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Tooele County discontinuing German, Russian, Chinese in DLI program