Debate continues over future of German classes in Farmington schoolsThe latest plan for the Farmington School District’s German program could shift the language entirely to the high school, a move that has at least one board member concerned about the long-term future for the class.
By: Nathan Hansen, The Farmington Independent
The latest plan for the Farmington School District’s German program could shift the language entirely to the high school, a move that has at least one board member concerned about the long-term future for the class.
Superintendent Jay Haugen presented a plan Monday that would move the first offering of German I to ninth grade. He hopes the move will make it easier to offer the class to what has been a shrinking population of interested students. About 40 students signed up for German I for the 2012-13 school year, but they are spread among two middle schools and Farmington High School.
Haugen said the district considered options including video conferencing and busing students to create a big enough class, but he said waiting until ninth grade, when the students will all be in the same building, was the simpler solution.
“If we just wait and offer German I in ninth grade we would have 40-some students in one place,” Haugen said.
The change, which would mean no German I offering for the 2012-13 school year, creates a hole next year for would-be first-year German students. Board member Tim Burke raised concerns Monday about what that could mean for the program in the long run, and that students who do not have the opportunity to take German next year might simply move on to French or Spanish.
“I think the option that’s being offered is not one that leads to a long-term German program in this district,” Burke said.
Haugen said the district would try to find creative ways to market German next year to bring students into the program. At Burke’s request, he also plans to look into polling next year’s would-be German I students to see if they would wait another year to take the class.
As part of the planned change the school board also approved a package of unrequested leaves of absence for teachers that reduces German teacher Cheryl Wason’s position to the equivalent of one-sixth of a full-time position.
The future of German in Farmington schools has been up for debate several times over the years. In December, teaching and learning director Caleb Drexler-Booth reported that enrollment in the program had fallen from 290 in the 2006-07 school year to 68 this year. This year’s enrollment was an increase of 13 from last year, though, and enrollment in German I had increased by a greater percentage, from eight in 2010-11 to 48 this year.
Board member Melissa Sauser expressed support for language programs in general, but said it’s hard to ignore the numbers in German.
“Unfortunately, the students have been voting with their feet not to take the class,” she said. “I feel we need to honor that choice in a respectful manner.”
Haugen said there’s no avoiding a change in the program.
“If we continue the process as currently implemented with German I at three schools, we will continue to face this problem every year,” Haugen said.