Banks Albach of Califonia’s San Jose Mecury News reports:

The federal government is offering the Palo Alto Unified School District nearly $800,000 over three years to fund its recently created Mandarin immersion program.

The grant, which the board of trustees will discuss Tuesday night but take no action on, is part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Foreign Language Assistance Program and requires renewal each of the three years.

According to a staff report, the district would receive $197,809 the first year, $279,191 in the second and $283,264 in the third. The district is required to match the grant, dollar to dollar.

“It’s bringing additional money into the district,” Board Member Mandy Lowell said.

But the grant has also prompted some words of caution from Board Member Gail Price. Yes it’s free money, she said, but the district should plan ahead for when the grant is no longer available.

After a long debate over Mandarin immersion, the district board approved the program in a 4-1 vote in June, just weeks before news of the grant came in. The immersion program is set to start in the fall of 2008 in the Ohlone Elementary School. Mandarin I and II are already offered at each of the high schools.

Full report