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As Urbana school board considers redistricting company, Spanish-English dual language program remains central question

COVID testers visit a Leal Elementary School kindergarten classroom in October 2021. Leal is one of two Urbana elementary schools with Spanish dual-language programs.

URBANA — The Urbana school board plans to hire an outside company at its Tuesday evening meeting to redistrict its schools.

District 116 school board members hope redistricting will help them pick a location to combine its Spanish dual-language programs into one building. The board postponed making that decision last fall.

“One other difficulty with redistricting our district is that one potential plan would have a single dual-language school,” school board member Ravi Hasanadka told the consultants last week.

The only company District 116 is considering at the moment is RSP & Associates, LLC. The Kansas-based group says they specialize in school planning and have a track record of predicting the next five years of student enrollment with 97 percent accuracy.

The school board vetted RSP & Associates at their meeting last week.

Board member Citlaly Yuritzi Stanton asked how RSP considers multilingual families in the process.

“That’s something we work with a district,” RSP CEO Robert Schwartz said. “There could be interpreters at the meetings. Sometimes when the meetings are held has an impact on whether or not [families] can be there.”

Schwartz said they would also try to translate all public materials into the languages students speak at home.

For a fee of $49,500 — not including reimbursement for traveling — RSP would analyze enrollment projects, map potential school boundaries and gather community feedback by next March.

The school board’s vote on the contract is scheduled for Tuesday night at 6:30 PM at the Tiger Academy building, 303 E. Fairlawn in Urbana.

Emily Hays is a reporter for Illinois Public Media.

Picture of Emily Hays

Emily Hays

Emily Hays started at WILL in October 2021 after three-plus years in local newsrooms in Virginia and Connecticut. She has won state awards for her housing coverage at Charlottesville Tomorrow and her education reporting at the New Haven Independent. Emily graduated from Yale University where she majored in History and South Asian Studies.

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