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Parents Divided Over Cottage Grove School Changes

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By Lindsey Seavert, WCCO-TV

COTTAGE GROVE (WCCO) — A heated debate in Cottage Grove had hundreds of parents fighting for the future of their school district.

A district task force has proposed moving students away from a neighborhood elementary school to expand a Spanish immersion program.

Parents filed in to a packed auditorium at Park High School for a chance to voice their opinions in front of the South Washington School District School Board.

Crestview Elementary is home to both a traditional school and the popular Nuevas Fronteras program, which the district says averages about 40 students on a wait list.

A district task force came up with three options for future growth. The first option would be making no changes at all, the second option would open up the Spanish Immersion program at two separate schools and the third option could close the elementary school to make room for that growing Spanish program.

“That requires dispersing kids from a neighborhood school to make room for them, which is we all know a challenge,” said Dave Bernhardson, the district’s assistant superintendent. “They appreciate the fact there is Spanish immersion but also want to maintain neighborhood schools.”

Some parents who weighed in say it’s reached a stalemate and believe the district must find another option.

“I see a community pitted against each other because we all have to share funds,” said parent Sandy Poeschel, whose children attend Crestview Elementary. “What is the sacrifice to us? That’s the growing pains our community is going through because nobody does want to give up. We need to go back to the drawing board and find a workable solution.”

The school district will discuss the options on Thursday, Dec. 2, and is set to make a decision by Dec. 16.

WCCO-TV’s Lindsey Seavert Reports

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