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Alex Groves, Dana Point Times

The Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees on Wednesday, Nov. 14, heard a presentation about plans to transition RH Dana Elementary School into a Spanish language immersion school where 50 percent of instruction would be in English and 50 percent would be in Spanish for students in kindergarten and first grade.

The presentation was conducted by RH Dana Principal Kristen Nelson, who described the intricacies of the 50-50 program and how it would work.

According to a Board Report, RH Dana Elementary has seen enrollment plummet over much of the last decade, so the school has been trying to reinvent itself as a way to attract more students. Most recently, the school was reimagined as a science and technology academy.

Currently, the Capistrano Unified School District has three Spanish immersion programs and one Mandarin Chinese Program. The three Spanish immersion programs offer an 80/20 model, in which students learn in Spanish 80 percent of the day and in English 20 percent of the day. RH Dana would be the first school with a 50-50 model, and there are a couple of reasons for that, Nelson said.

The estimated cost of staffing the school with one more person for Spanish enrichment and additional instructional materials is $288,000.

The presentation was informational in nature and nothing was required of the Board of Trustees, but they will be looking at the program as a formal item for approval during their meeting in December.

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