DPS international school on track to open in August

Dayton Public Schools' World of Wonder school

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Dayton Public Schools' World of Wonder school

Dayton Public Schools’ new international school, set in the old World of Wonder building in Residence Park, is on track to open this upcoming school year.

Rachel Murdock, chief academic officer at DPS, said 257 English learner students across grades K-12 are currently enrolled to attend the international school, which is expected to teach many students who are recent immigrants learning English.

The school is also welcoming students from the Residence Park neighborhood in grades K-6, but only 23 neighborhood students were signed up for the school as of July 19, and they were unevenly distributed across the grades. For example, there were no third-grade students signed up, but eight fourth-grade students signed up, according to the district.

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District staff said they would continue to try to enroll students from the neighborhood into the district, and the board of education suggested a few other ways to approach people in the neighborhood.

English learners would be assessed by a district team to be sent to the school for about a year, though the district said the English learners could leave the school earlier or later depending on the situation. The ESL students would then attend their neighborhood schools.

Lolli said the district has been able to fill most of the positions for teachers, assistants and other needed staff. Only a few positions are still open, she said.

Rachel Underwood, academic coordinator for K-12 English learners at Dayton Public Schools, noted in a presentation in April that Dayton Public Schools is second only to Columbus City Schools in the percentage of students who are learning English, and the number of immigrants is rapidly growing in Dayton.

Underwood said on July 19 the teachers and assistants speak multiple languages, including Spanish, French, Farsi, Swahili, Kinyarwanda, one of the national languages of Rwanda, and Swedish.

Many of the district’s immigrants are from Spanish-speaking Central and South American countries, Middle Eastern countries like Iran and Afghanistan, who speak Farsi, or from African countries. Many northwestern African countries speak French, a legacy of French colonialization in the region.

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School board President Will Smith said in April that World of Wonder was closed due to low attendance three years ago, at a time when it had a higher number of students than the expected enrollment this fall. World of Wonder’s enrollment dropped after a May 2016 stabbing at the school. But after falling to 312 in December 2017, enrollment had bounced back to 406 in April 2019, just before the school closed.

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