School Board delays decision to move dual language students to Stocktrail Elementary

Under proposed changes, Stocktrail Elementary could become a DLI-exclusive facility (Ryan Lewallen/County 17)

GILLETTE, Wyo.— A decision on whether to combine all Campbell County dual-language immersion (DLI) classrooms under a single roof has been postponed to a later date.

The postponement came during the Campbell County School Board’s regular meeting on April 12 after board members listened to comments from nearly a dozen parents, most of whom expressed concern over a move that would make Stocktrail Elementary School a DLI- exclusive facility and would displace all non-DLI students below grade 5 currently enrolled there.

“I will tell you that whenever we look at attendance areas, all the way going back, it’s never perfect and it does impact the families which we are very considerate of, and we understand that as well,” said Kirby Eisenhauer, deputy superintendent for the Campbell County School District (CCSD).

Deputy Superintendent Kirby Eisenhauer addresses the school board on April 12, presenting information regarding the proposed changes to the CCSD DLI program (Ryan Lewallen/County 17)

Currently, the district’s DLI program is split between two schools, Rawhide Elementary and Stocktrail Elementary. Under the proposed move, all DLI students attending Rawhide would be transferred to Stocktrail, where they would continue their instruction alongside other DLI sections.

The proposed change would also move all non-DLI students in grades K-4 at Stocktrail to Prairie Wind Elementary School next year, Eisenhauer said, adding that traditionally enrolled students moving on to grades five and six at Stocktrail would be allowed to remain there to finish out their elementary school years.

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According to Eisenhauer, the proposed changes would leave 34 traditionally enrolled students at Stocktrail while another 50 would be transferred to Prairie Wind with their teachers and fellow traditional sections with Rawhide reverting to a two-section school.

Prairie Wind Elementary School (Ryan Lewallen/County 17)

The proposed changes have been under consideration for years by the administration, Eisenhauer said, with the DLI program-where students are instructed half the school day in English and the other half in Spanish- growing in popularity and regularly receiving more applications than seats available.

Stocktrail Elementary, as the only school able to handle four sections of grades K-6 in Campbell County, was specifically designed to accommodate the CCSD DLI program, per Eisenhauer, who said that moving all DLI students to Stocktrail could relieve some of the districts fuel costs which are currently reflecting the financial burden of 10 separate bus routes to transport DLI students to Rawhide Elementary.

For some parents, however, the proposed move would mean separating their children from their friends or, in some instances, from their families.

The latter concern was raised by resident Tara Glass who said all her children currently attend Stocktrail Elementary, though only her youngest is enrolled in the DLI program while her other children are traditionally enrolled.

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For Glass, the proposed move becomes an issue due to her work schedule, which often means she leaves before her children get on the bus and must rely on her older children to get her youngest to school, safe and sound.

Resident Jacob Dalby said that he didn’t see the advantage of separating DLI students from their traditionally enrolled friends and voiced his opinion that the district should consider allowing all students currently enrolled at Stocktrail to remain there.

While he doesn’t have any children of his own that attend Stocktrail, Dalby said that he does have several cousins, not all of whom are DLI students and the proposed move by the school district would be splitting them up across multiple schools.

“I appreciate the comments tonight,” School Board Chairwoman Anne Ochs said. “This board does not walk into these situations with our minds made up.”

CCSD School Board Chairwoman Anne Ochs speaks to attendees during the board meeting on April 12 (Ryan Lewallen/County 17)

The board ultimately chose not to make any formal decisions on the issue until after it has had the opportunity to listen to more public comments during a listening session tentatively scheduled for April 20 at 6 p.m.