An introductory Spanish program for Steamboat Springs School District elementary students will continue into the 2004-05 school year, thanks in part to an Education Fund Board donation accepted Monday by the School Board.
The School Board accepted all 12 Fund Board "gifts" offered to it at Monday's meeting, including one for $10,000 to help fund the elementary Spanish program at Strawberry Park and Soda Creek elementary schools.
The program, which began during the second semester of the 2002-03 school year with funding primarily coming from the parent information committees at both schools, has been lauded as a huge success by many parents and teachers.
But some School Board members have expressed concerns about continuing the program in the absence of an articulated, kindergarten through twelfth-grade foreign language program in the district.
"I think we need to look at it as a district first," School Board President Paula Stephenson said Monday. "I don't believe the Education Fund Board should drive district curriculum."
Stephenson was the lone School Board member to vote against the gift, though Pat Gleason also expressed some concerns about the program and said he won't vote for it again until the district has developed an articulated foreign language program.
Superintendent Donna Howell said she's a strong supporter of foreign language programs and said the district will begin to look at a total language program and its cost. A total program will have several districtwide ramifications, she said, including a possible extension of the school day.
Strawberry Park fifth grade teacher Mike Johnson spoke in support of the program Monday, emphasizing the importance of bilingualism in the future success of students.
"We say we're preparing our kids for the future, and the future is beyond Steamboat Springs," Johnson said.
This year the Fund Board contributed $5,000 to the program, which pays teacher Ann Coon to split her time between third-, fourth- and fifth-grade classes at both schools. Several School Board members expressed concern last year when accepting the Fund Board gift.
Next year's Fund Board donation will double that amount, freeing up additional parent information committee funds for more traditional programs paid for by the groups.
Other Fund Board gifts approved by the School Board:
n $399,000 for small class sizes, which will pay the salaries and benefits of about 10 district teachers.
n $328,520 for content standards staff and teacher training, including the salaries and benefits of the director of content standards and half-time "teachers on special assignment" at each district school.
n $323,640 to pay the salaries and benefits of technology department staff members, including the technology director, two computer support specialists and four half-time building technology coordinators.
n $96,350 for technology hardware replacement
n $25,000 for a technology network upgrade
n $5,000 for the accelerated summer reading program
n $25,000 for a curriculum management audit
n $10,000 for technology online databases
n $30,000 for technology curriculum software
n $23,650 for additional technology hardware replacement
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