RANCHO SANTA FE — At length, Superintendent Lindy Delaney discussed her research for the potential of adding a foreign language curriculum to next year’s school year for grades K through 5.
Parent, Linda Leong, had brought this topic to the school board’s attention last year. She gathered numerous signatures from parents who thought implementing foreign language to the younger children would be beneficial.
Delaney told the board that over the years, the District has spent a lot of time discussing this. She mentioned there are pros such as stimulating academic achievement, offering cognitive benefits, and changing the way students view different languages and cultures.
In her research, Delaney said, those were the three high points.
“But we’re in a situation though, where our days are full,” she said, adding how she asked the K-5 teachers for feedback.
In order to devise this program, Delaney assessed for grades K – 2 the program would take place 4 days a week for 30 minutes. For grades 3 – 5, it would increase to 40 minutes at four days per week.
From Delaney’s research, this would be the minimum for foreign language retention.
The estimated cost for the program was $200,000 to $250,000.
“When I posed the question to the teachers about the benefit, I think there was a consensus that they thought it would be good for students. My next question was what would you take out of the schedule?” Delaney continued, “And that herein lies the big dilemma for the teachers.”
Delaney went on to say that the teachers feel as if they’re cast so hard with reading, writing, math, science, social studies and other electives.
The teachers conveyed to Delaney that they thought foreign language was valuable, but they also didn’t feel as if they should remove anything from their current curriculum.
“When you start pulling away, what do you pull away from?” Delaney asked the board. “We feel like we could take a look at the schedule for next year, and see if it’s possible, but there is something that’s going to have to come out.”
As far as the approximate $250,000 program cost, it would be pulled from next year’s operating budget. One way, Delaney suggested, could come from the Education Foundation which raised 1.3 million.
Additionally, Delaney asked the teachers if foreign language could be detrimental to any of their current students. Some teachers admitted it would affect a few students who may already be struggling with their set of courses.
Delaney said with the boards’ direction, she could research the topic more and bring back other proposals.
Board of trustee, Richard Burdge, said this topic has come up for years and stated that the academic wheel is quite full.
“It’d be great if there was more time in the day and could offer more things,” Burdge said.
He also wanted the other trustees to know that if a parent desperately wants a child to be immersed in language from an early age, they’ll find a way to do it.
“The school can’t do everything,” he said.
While the board discussed the issue, board clerk, Marti Ritto asked Delaney if she could do more research on implementing a more cohesive before and after school program dedicated to foreign language.
Delaney said she could.
In conclusion, the board agreed on “no action” at the moment until Delaney provides more research and data.