The Anaheim City School District board has decided to take more time to consider a proposed charter school to be called Nation Builders Arabic Academy.
A dozen people spoke in favor of establishing the school at a recent board meeting.
"We are Americans, too. We just want to teach and become one family," supporter Sam Seale said, beginning his remarks in Arabic. "We came to this land of opportunity so American's could also learn our language and culture. We just need a chance to prove ourselves."
The school proposal submitted by Arwa Hasouneh says the academy would serve grades K-8 and open for the 2013-14 academic year. The school has two potential locations, one on West Ball Road and another on South Brookhurst, said Hasouneh, who would be the school's education coordinator.
"This school would allow us to address issues regular public schools do not, like teaching our kids Arabic," she said. "The Nation Builders Arabic Academy would have a racial and ethnic balance that reflects our community."
Those who questioned the idea at Monday's meeting worried about the loss of funding the state provides to each student.
"My main issue is that charter schools are a business. They take away from the district and give to only a few," Ponderosa Elementary School Librarian Kathleen Heard said. "We as a district can do this better than an outside agency with the dual-immersion programs we already have."
Heard also questioned why the school's proposal planned to accept only 260 students at any given time over its first five years. The Anaheim district alone has more than 1,000 students with Arabic backgrounds, she said.
While both a public school and a charter school are funded by tax money, a charter school can accept students from any districts.
The school board had intended to decide on the proposal at its Dec. 10 meeting, but decided to schedule a special meeting to further discuss it.
"I really appreciate this movement. There is a need for the home language and culture to be utilized in school," board member Jose Moreno said. "However, I am worried about resources being pulled from our district at this difficult time. If this is something the ACSD can offer itself, then that would solve the problem."