Beloved French program part of Norman district-wide cuts

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NORMAN, Okla. - Ava Wade is in the first grade at Reagan Elementary School in Norman and loves being in the French Immersion Program.

She and her classmates just found out the class will be cut next year due to the state's budget shortfall.

“I'm disappointed that it's going to be canceled, but I'm just glad I was able to be in it for a little while," the 6-year-old said.

Parents received an email from the district on April 6, saying they would discontinue the K - 4th grade program.

Now, they're upset and hoping to change the district's mind.

"They were asked to make a commitment and for us, as parents, to support them in this commitment and the students and the faculty and staff, and to be told the funds aren't there,” said Katie Lynch.

The French Immersion Program has proven itself successful at Reagan Elementary.

Lynch said her daughter got in after being put on a waiting list.

“She's upset. She doesn't like that money is the issue, because she said it's not fair that money ends something that's so great," Lynch said.

Superintendent Dr. Joe Siano helped start the program six years ago and is also disappointed in having to cut the program.

He said it's a $400,000 investment a year, and they weren't able to justify spending the money for next fiscal year.

“I think the worst thing that you do for students and families is exactly what's done here: Create a successful program, a program that makes a difference, a program that was supposed to be a model for other programs around the district," Siano said.

It's part of a larger effort to cut $6 million in Norman Public Schools.

“It's a program of the nature that we should be doing in the state of Oklahoma, but inadequate funding allows you to just do the basics and not the innovations,” Siano said.

Norman Public Schools announced it will also reduce staffing costs by 3 percent or $2.1 million.