Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Live reporting - Foreign language (Latin, Spanish)

5. Information Matters
Superintendent’s Report
a. Foreign Language

eight Latin teachers hired in last several years, great turnover
one resigned, another indicated intention to resign
leave request from a HS Latin teacher (maternity leave)
currently employing .5 of a Latin teacher, looking for 5 Latin teachers

3 were fully qualified and will be bringing in for interviews
most of the others h ad been interviewed before and were not hired
decision was to proceed with reducing Latin and alleviating part of the problem
the middle school teachers will move to the high school (they are all certified K-12)

Memo to committee May 12th
Memo on June 4th
Discussion on June 8th
and proceeded accordingly

We will be continuing to look at Foreign language overall to see what we are offering, what we could offer
middle school students get 65 sessions during their school year, not enough
we will be pursuing the study more fully in the coming year and coming up with a plan

Mullen - School system suffering the death of a thousand cuts
made a philosophical decision to go with Latin, we are not making a pragmatic decision to remove it from the middle school
My youngest daughter would have taken French but French got cut, so she took Latin
Most communities were offering only one language, Spanish

Michelle Kingsland-Smith
out of 32 districts, 4 of the 32 had an elementary program, only 7 had Latin, and in the middle school

Cafasso - 177 schools teach Latin, 32 middle schools, 140 schools within the state, if that helps
info from the DESE was obtained today and would be forwarded to the Committee and to the administration

Sabolinski - having a license doesn't make a teacher effective, it is step one
There is a way to equalize class size and class instruction; some of the Latin classes were smaller due to less demand, some of the Spanish classes were larger due to demand.

Sabolinski - had intentions to get to three times a week for foreign language but cut it to 2 due to budget, the opportunity to focus on the MetroWest health results (BMI, bullying,etc.) we have requirements to implement with no resources to do so. The current program wasn't enough.

Kingsland-Smith - districts will be required to provide the curriculum in cyber-bullying, they have specifically said curriculum, not a separate program, 

Sabolinski - we (administration team) are going tomorrow to a workshop to review what they are providing 

Cafasso - (pressing issue on an administration decision to go this way and replace the language program with the health effort)

Perry - in terms of recruiting teachers, it is not a selling point, 

Cafasso - there are a lot of kids who are impacted by this, we never asked them, we just announced it on the last day of school. What is the plan to help the students with one year left?

Perry  - we have talked about summer classes, we have talked about online learning, we have talked about a traveling roll. We only have one person and a class size of sixty and you can't collapse the two sections

Wittcoff - We are really here because we lost these Latin teachers, in Math and Science the nation has programs to foster growth in those areas, they are not doing that for Latin. The pragmatic decision is to change the offerings

Perry - what could it look like? all the schools could offer Spanish, with an integration of the subject into other subject areas.

Bergen -  The students who had a chance to try the foundation language, Latin, and then pick up one later. It becomes exploratory because we no longer have the intensive program. Language moved off the core subjects unless we could keep the hour. Can we add an hour to the school day? I don't see that happening.

Kingsland-Smith - due to AYP issues, we focused on the core and made progress. It was at the expense of the language.

Sabolinksi - we are looking at other options, after school clubs, etc. Not this summer though.

Cafasso - to hear tonight that language is no longer a core subject for this district is concerning.

Kingsland-Smith - when we think about a core, a core is an everyday item, the state has defined those four frameworks (math, science, social studies, and ELA) language was once but is no longer.

Douglas - I'd like to see if we could do something for those students that have already have had two years

quick survey of the schools, about 80 at Remington, 40-50 at Keller, and another 70 at Horace Mann. It would be one full-time but two bodies due to the schedule issue amongst the three middle schools

Perry - studies from the 1980 show shortages on the Latin teachers, it is not a new problem

Glynn - have you pursued other languages to compliment Spanish?

Sabolinski - we have not been able to find qualified teachers? we have looked for Mandarin Chinese and Arabic back even when Mr Lucas was here we were exploring programs to bring teachers here

Glynn - have you found anything on the e-learning front, perhaps were several schools could combine? perhaps a rhetorical question

Roy - I have no doubt that we are all desiring to see Latin at the middle schools. As a practicality, I don't think we can.  I don't think we are second guessing the plan or decision.  I support that wholeheartedly, looking at Mr Cafasso's suggestion to examine the whole language program.  Language is a hot topic in my household. NoChildLeftBehind is what defines a core subject, we are not loosing foreign language in Franklin, we are loosing one subject matter. We are in the middle of a set of tough choices. The community spoke and said no, so we need to move accordingly to make tough choices.

Bergen - we have no general music left due to the budget, and elementary music is lost

Mullen - I want to follow up on what is left for those kids who would be going into 8th grade. 

Sabolinski - we did not go at this capriciously, we sat down with Kristy Yankee, the language lead who had actually received the student when we did this with French the last time. It just did not work, it was not an effective instructional model for students. Her plea was to shore up the high school program. We are excited to be offer high school AP Latin for the firs time.

Light - what was the impact on French when we stopped French at the middle schools? We don't have enough French teachers at the high school. In terms of pure numbers, we don't see an impact. We are offering French AP next year due to enough demand for it. How do you come up with a good comprehensive 4-year program?  We are looking to keep the programs competitive. How do we help them come into Latin (after having spent sometime in another language)? Early acquisition skills are what we are looking at.

Mullen - We are in this unenviable position of cutting and we hear you of expanding something, making the best of a lousy situation.

Glynn - don't leave the student out?
Roy - yes, we will let the audience have their say when the committee had completed their questions

Sabolinksi - we have provided a lot of data in our last foreign language report, what else are you looking for?

Cafasso - it has been a discussion for years, as well as a goal of the superintendent to improve the foreign language program. I'd like to see the plan that I have been asking for for five years?

Sabolinski - I have the plan, we have reviewed the plan, but we are not able to fund it.

Cafasso - You have made it clear tonight that this is not a budget decision, this is another decision. The Committee is supposed to set the guidelines. I don't believe we have done so.  It wasn't ever clear that this was a decision, it was just a proposal. It's done. I'd like to see it come back in some formative way. I'd like to see something be done for the students who spent two years studying and won't be getting into Peter's program yet.

Rohrbach - This is the result of budget constraints and unfunded mandates. Thank you for coming here and providing your thoughts.

Texeira - now a sophomore at Northeastern. Youth soccer coach with youth soccer leagues, head through his soccer players, to confirm what has been said tonight. Kids have talked to me in Spanish, French and Latin. Tested out English at college due to his preparation from Franklin HS.  I think it would be a big mistake to cut Latin. I understand you having trouble finding teachers. 

Sabolinski - we have been aggressive in pursuing teachers for the past five years.  

Texeira - I wanted to stress the importance of Latin. It impacted almost everything else we did. It is much better to have students and graduated students with a background in languages is better than being less than competent and capable in languages. Most of the languages are derived from Latin.

b. Interim Principal HMMS
Michael Levine - interim principal, hired today
experienced retired principal, will keep the wonderful things that Dr Bergen has started
he will be scheduled to come to the School Committee sometime during the summer

Cafasso - hat is the gender breakdown at HM?
Bergen - approx. 50/50. 

Cafasso - Why an interim for this position?
Sabolinski - we were not able to find a suitable candidate in the initial search process earlier this year. We started late, did have an number of applicants but weren't able to move quickly enough, a good number ended up going elsewhere. We intend to start again in August.

Cafasso - Curious on your philosophy about the male/female issues being addressed at the middle schools
Sabolinski - one of the new counselors coming to Horace Mann is a female. 
Wittcoff  - there should be a team approach, some students will connect with one or another.

Trahan - I think it is on the student to have a level of confidence with who they can go to

Douglas - I commend you on not hiring a permanent too quickly

Sabolinski - thank you

Roy - general theme tonight has been to go attract the best and brightest

Franklin, MA

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