The Anchorage School Board has approved creation of a German immersion charter school.
The Rilke Schule German School of Arts and Sciences will open in fall 2007 at a site on Fireweed Lane near North Star Elementary School, if organizers can enroll 150 kids.
The district already operates Spanish, Japanese and Russian immersion classes as part of regular school programs. This would be the first immersion program to run as a charter school. Students will begin by taking half their lessons in German, the other half in English. Classes would become more German-heavy as the years progress.
Kids will celebrate German holidays, learn about the country's culture, travel to Germany, and chat by e-mail and regular mail with German pen pals. The school gets its name from German poet Rainer Maria Rilke. His famous poem, "Der Panther," gives Rilke Schule a panther as its mascot.
Board member Jake Metcalfe originally voted against the charter school, but later changed his vote.
It's nothing against German language and culture, Metcalfe said. He spoke German in college and said it remains a useful language when traveling through Europe.
"My whole problem with charter schools is because we don't provide transportation, they become these little private public schools," he said. "That isn't right for me because public schools are supposed to be for everybody. ... I think it fractures the district. I don't think it's good for education."
Another immersion charter school is in the works: Susan Oakley, a French teacher at Goldenview Middle School, is forming a French immersion school that would go up for School Board review in about a year.
Oakley said it's possible the French school -- if approved -- would share a building with the German immersion program.