Worcester Bilingual School opens former St. Stephen’s School

WORCESTER — With just over a month to go back to school, the district is preparing for the opening of its new bilingual school, a “significant milestone” for schools in the city, Superintendent Maureen Binienda said.

Over the next few weeks, the school department will paint the walls, install wireless internet and install security cameras at the former St. Stephen’s School on Grafton Street, which the city concluded earlier this year for a five-year lease. .

“I think this is an important step for the district,” said Binienda, who added that there is a “growing precedent” for such bilingual schools.

“There is also pressure from the Department of Primary and Secondary (State) Education,” she said, to provide more bilingual programs in general.

The new Worcester school, which will serve pupils in kindergarten through sixth grade, will teach pupils English and Spanish, although Binienda said she would like to add other languages ​​in the future.

Most of the students will come from the district’s existing bilingual program at Roosevelt School, an arrangement the school department presented to parents at several meetings last year, according to the superintendent.

The school, which will initially accommodate around 200 students, will also fill some remaining enrollment slots.

The school will be run by former North High School vice-principal Elizabeth Lupafya, who has two of her own children in the district’s bilingual programs, according to Binienda. In total, the school is budgeted for 18 employees, including 11 teachers.

While most of those positions have been filled, the school department is still looking for a nurse and a teacher to serve as Lupafya’s assistant administrator, Binienda said.

School officials also submitted a potential name for the school to the school committee for review, but Binienda said she could not reveal it publicly yet.

Plans for the bilingual school emerged shortly after St. Stephen’s School closed last June, leaving behind a building that officials saw as an ideal location for the program. But the city still went through a public bidding process for the lease of the proposed school, which ultimately led to the deal, reached in March, to lease St. Stephen.

The school is the latest example of the expansion of Worcester’s bilingual programs, which are currently based at Chandler Magnet Elementary School, Roosevelt, Woodland Academy and Burncoat Middle School and High School.

According to the school department, dedicating an entire school building to bilingual education has several benefits, including a shared mission and sense of unity in the school, a primary focus on bilingualism, and a reduced teaching load. for teachers.

There is also more space now for bilingual classrooms; the St. Stephen building has room for 18 in total, according to Binienda, which would bring the school’s total enrollment capacity to around 360 students.

Binienda said that ultimately an increased focus on teaching students multiple languages ​​”makes sense…it’s a global society now, and these kids are speaking to people in all parts of the world.

Scott O’Connell can be contacted Scott.O’Connell@telegram.com. Follow him on Twitter @ScottOConnellTG