School district’s world languages survey yields results but little participation | SteamboatToday.com

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School district’s world languages survey yields results but little participation

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that the Steamboat Springs School District did not file an appeal with the Colorado Department of Education regarding BOCES. According to Superintendent Brad Meeks, he did send a letter to the CDE commissioner outlining the district’s concerns with the process.

The 2013-14 school year marks the first time all Steamboat Springs School District students in kindergarten through fifth grade are taking Spanish courses, and even more second-language expansion is being explored at all grade levels.

At Monday's school board meeting, district Superintendent Brad Meeks will review with the board the results of the most recent world languages survey conducted for students and parents. The 2013-14 world languages survey culled information about topics such as student and parent interest in language instruction outside Spanish and at what grade new-language instruction should begin.

"We're trying to get a feel for student interest and parent interest," Meeks said. "Right now, we have Spanish (from) basically kindergarten through high school, and we do have some sections of French at the high school. We really don't have a second language at elementary and middle school, though, to feed into the high school."

Meeks said the next step toward implementing even more second-language options likely won't take place until later in the fall of the 2014-15 school year. The surveys, he said, did reveal some needed information, but participation wasn't high from parents and students, who answered the questions online through Infinite Campus.

Out of the 1,129 available surveys for student-parent combinations, only 212 responded for an 18.77 percent response rate.

Based on the survey results, about two-thirds of those who took it responded that they were "very interested" in having courses other than Spanish offered, with French being the most popular with nearly 60 percent of the 212 in favor.

Meeks called this round of questions the "kickoff survey" but said no other surveys regarding the same world languages topic are expected anytime soon.

At the Feb. 6 regular Board of Education meeting, the board and Superintendent Meeks discussed the idea of appealing the Colorado Department of Education's denial for the district to withdraw from the Northwest Colorado Board of Cooperative Educational Services and become its own administrative unit.

And just before the district's midwinter weeklong break from Feb. 17 to 21, Meeks sent a letter to CDE outlining the district’s issues with the denial.

"The district did not go ahead with the appeal," Meeks said. "We're leaving the door open to reapply. I did send a letter to the commissioner and our concerns with process."

In mid-December, CDE denied the district's wish to operate as its own special education administrative unit, citing reasons that it would be too financially difficult for BOCES if Steamboat separated and that CDE would have trouble monitoring yet another administrative unit.

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll