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Changes approved for Milton’s French immersion program

MILTON — In the coming weeks, a school subcommittee in Milton will create the exact wording for a policy that caps enrollment in the School Department’s popular French immersion program and creates a lottery for spots in it.

Students in the immersion program start in first grade, learning entirely in French. English is then gradually added as they advance through school.

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Administrators realized earlier this year that increased interest in the French program could hurt the English program, which is required to have at least 18 students per class per school.

After hearing from parents in several meetings and debating for nearly two hours among themselves on Wednesday night, the committee unanimously approved the proposal.

The cap allows for a maximum of 182 French students with seven classes of 26 students each. The lottery then goes into effect if English classes do not have a minimum of 18 students.

Despite complaints from parents who have children already in the French program, the committee did not include a clause giving siblings preference in the lottery. Several committee members said they understood the concerns of parents who now may have students in different programs; however, they said the need for a cap outweighed that concern.

“This is the only way, while still maintaining the option for French, to move the system forward,” committee member Mary Kelly said.

Natalie Feulner can be reached at natalie.feulner@globe.com.
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