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Friday, November 10, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Seattle school district to expand its worldly offerings

Seattle Times staff reporter

Eight more Seattle public schools soon may offer international-education programs along the lines of those at John Stanford International School and Hamilton International Middle School.

At a fundraising breakfast for the two schools Thursday, Seattle Public Schools Chief Academic Officer Carla Santorno announced the district's intent to expand its international programs to five more elementary schools, one more middle school, and two high schools. Locations have not been determined, she said.

Also unknown is whether the schools would follow the John Stanford and Hamilton schools' dual-language immersion format, in which students learn some subjects in English and others in a second language.

Santorno's goal is to establish, within the next three to five years, 10 schools around the district, including John Stanford and Hamilton, that would have such international programs. By next fall, she hopes to have programs in place in two elementary schools.

She cited the high demand for the John Stanford school, along with the need to prepare students for a global economy and culture. At John Stanford, students take half of their subjects in English and the other half in either Spanish or Japanese, said principal Karen Kodama.

"We think the experience of John Stanford can be replicated," Santorno said.

The district is planning to add the middle and high schools because "we want a real clear feeding system," she said.

Both international schools are located in Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood. John Stanford enrolls about 400 students, with a wait list this year of about 100. Hamilton, which enrolls 723 students, has no waiting list for the immersion program.

At Hamilton, 64 sixth- and seventh-graders take one-third of their classes in Spanish. Next year, the school will add eighth-grade Spanish- and sixth-grade Japanese-immersion programs. The school as a whole emphasizes international cultures, said principal Terry Acena.

Kodama will lead the exploration of which models to choose and what communities need, including which languages to teach.

Lack of funding, among other factors, has stymied efforts to expand such programs in the past. The programs at John Stanford and Hamilton each cost about $200,000 more a year in resources than regular programs.

"I know we're going to have to put money into this," said School Board member Michael DeBell. "But we'll also be looking for help from the business community, and the self-help efforts of school communities."

Janet I. Tu: 206-464-2272 or jtu@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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