Chandler Unified to launch open enrollment this month - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler Unified to launch open enrollment this month

January 3rd, 2023 SanTan Sun News
Chandler Unified to launch open enrollment this month

By Ken Sain
Managing Editor

Trish Do said she values being able to speak in multiple languages.

“I feel like a second language is very important, especially in Arizona, especially the Spanish language,” she said. “It will help them so much for jobs in the future.”

Trish enrolled her son Leo for kindergarten at Chandler Traditional Academy—Freedom Campus after that school started a Spanish dual language immersion program.

In addition to learning Spanish for half a day at school – he spends the other half in English-speaking classes – Leo speaks Vietnamese at home. If he continues, Leo should be fluent in three languages by the time he reaches high school.

CTA Freedom will be expanding its dual language immersion program next year to include first grade, Principal Christina Lucas-Sheffield said.

“That’s the beautiful thing about the program is that it attracted people from near and far,” Lucas-Sheffield said. “So we have some existing family, some community members, that have already been established at CTA Freedom. And then we have families who are coming all the way from Queen Creek or Phoenix.”

Open enrollment beings Jan. 9 for Chandler Unified School District for families that live outside of the current attendance boundaries. The enrollment period for families inside the boundary begins Jan. 11.

Chandler Unified School District is trying to draw more students in from outside its boundaries because of declining enrollment. The district is currently debating what to do with nine schools as officials expect fewer students will be attending in the future.

The primary cause for declining enrollment, according to a study session the district held last spring, is the high cost of housing in the Chandler area. Young families can’t afford to live or move here, so they are moving to areas with cheaper housing.

To combat that, CUSD is spending more money on marketing, nearly $500,000 this year, to convince families Chandler Unified is a premier district of choice.

And, the district is offering more programs officials hope will entice families to choose CUSD. That includes dual language immersion programs. In addition to Spanish at four schools, the district also has schools (Tarwater Elementary and Bogle Junior High) that have a Mandarin program.

Stephanie Ingersoll, the district’s executive director of marketing and communications, said the key thing to know about open enrollment is that applications are time-stamped. So, getting them in early could help when it comes to placement at some of the district’s most attractive schools.

“It’s a very busy day,” Ingersoll said of the first day of open enrollment. “The phones are ringing off the hook, people are coming in. Everything is taken based on that timestamp.”

Chandler Unified is also offering gifted academies for students who test high enough on the Cognitive Abilities Testing.

The district also offers the Chandler Traditional Academy campuses, where teachers and parents work in a partnership to improve their children’s education. Arizona College Prep is ranked as one of the best high schools in the nation.

For parents who are unsure which school might be best for their child, the district is offering to help guide them to the best choice.

For Do, and her son Leo, that was CTA Freedom.

“I wish they offered it for my son, my oldest, because it’s amazing how [Leo’s] doing,” Do said. “He’s learning and it hasn’t really hasn’t affected the English portion at all. So his grades are still up in English and his grades are pretty good in Spanish.”

That’s exactly what Principal Lucas-Sheffield likes to hear. She said she pushed to add a dual language immersion program.

“What type of educational experience would I like my child to have?” she asked herself when she first considered it. “I was thinking why not provide students with the gift of a second language? I started talking to community members, different parents, and I surveyed our staff. They wanted us to do it.”