School district responds to continued Spanish Immersion criticism

The Bainbridge Island School District and Bainbridge Schools Foundation each responded this week to continued criticism of the Spanish Immersion Pilot Project at Commodore Options School.

As we reported last month, some Bainbridge parents questioned the process used to create and fund the pilot (known as El Velero this year). Calls for greater transparency continued at a Feb. 28 world language forum, while other parents spoke in support of the program.

Following the forum, a well-circulated letter from parent Kim Paulson accused the district of colluding with the Schools Foundation to funnel private donations to the program:

Instead of being open about their intentions and avoiding backlash, BISD created SI with a lack of communication, financial transparency, and due process. The school district and foundation should be held accountable for these shortcomings and work to earn the public trust once more.

School board President Mike Spence and Supt. Faith Chapel offered this detailed and direct rebuttal to Paulson’s letter Tuesday:

Spanish Immersion Response

Bainbridge Schools Foundation Executive Director Vicky Marsing also sent us a letter this week responding to concerns:

The Bainbridge Schools Foundation (BSF) would like to respond to concerns about the Spanish Immersion Pilot Program now being implemented at BISD. BSF cares about our donors, our students, our community and the quality of education on Bainbridge Island. We appreciate feedback.

BSF exists to support the unmet needs, the vision and the mission of our school district. We care about open, honest transactions and education excellence for all students. We help to connect donors who value education to the unmet needs of the school district. Donations fund class size reduction, staff training and innovation in the classroom. The school district identifies and prioritizes needs, and BSF helps to fund what the school district cannot.

Through generous donations from the community, BSF gave $1 Million of support last year and is on track to give another $1 Million to the district this year. These donations are very specific and itemized when they are given to the district.

BSF is committed to continuously improve upon our donation process to insure clarity and transparency. We also will continue to fund innovation because a school district that innovates benefits students, parents and the community.

Thank you for your continued feedback and support. Your $1 Million dollars of donation to our schools make a huge difference in the quality of education for all students. Our schools are great because our community cares.

Vicky Marsing
Executive Director, Bainbridge Schools Foundation

The school board plans to decide the future of the Spanish Immersion Pilot Project by the end of March. District staff will present the results of a Spanish Immersion feasibility study (described in the district’s statement above) at a board meeting Thursday. A decision on the program is expected at the March 28 board meeting.