Santa Rosa School Board members Wednesday unanimously approved the charter for a new Spanish-language dual-immersion school that is scheduled to open in the fall.

The vote makes official what board members have sought for a year: a Spanish-language kindergarten-through-eighth-grade program.

The school is slated to open in August with three kindergarten classes and one transitional kindergarten class.

The classes will be taught 90 percent in Spanish and 10 percent in English in kindergarten and first grades, and 70 percent Spanish and 30 percent English in grades two and three. In grades four through eight, instruction will be evenly split between English and Spanish. That breakdown represents a slight departure from previous plans for language instruction, which had kindergarten through second grade 90 percent in Spanish, grades three through six 70 percent in Spanish, and grades seven and eight evenly split.

"We are at a foundational stage with the charter," School Board President Bill Carle said. "The design of the curriculum -- what is it going to look like, how is it going to attract students and what it could become -- I think that we need to constantly prod ourselves to what can we make this?"

Still unsettled is where the school will be located.

The district last week released a comprehensive list of potential sites that touched nearly every campus in Sonoma County's largest school district.

Carle acknowledged that the discussion of location, and its impact on an established school or program, has sparked anxiety.

"These are all the possibilities without any judgment call made," he said. "A lot of people are anxious, a lot of people are very concerned. I understand that."

Location, including potentially opening the school at one site and moving it in the future when enrollment grows, is the focus of a special meeting Wednesday.

"I will be looking for a solution that accommodates the parents of our bilingual school, but it needs to be balanced with the needs of the district," trustee Ron Kristof said.

Board members and district staff expressed the desire to nail down the location soon, saying some parents may be waiting to sign on with the school until the location is known.

A determination should not be expected at Wednesday's meeting nor at the Feb. 13 regular meeting, according to Carle. Possible action could occur at the Feb. 27 meeting, he said.

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