On Thursday night, the Riverside Middle School Council will invite parents to their monthly meeting to discuss foreign languages.
There currently is a committee studying foreign languages in Columbia County, and Riverside's council plans to present its recommendations to that committee.
County schools Superintendent Tommy Price and school board Trustee Wayne Bridges also will be at the meeting to field questions from parents.
"There's just so many aspects involved in trying to incorporate Spanish into the middle-school curriculum that I thought it was important to notify parents," said Principal Don Putnam. "We are required by the state to have so many minutes of core instruction and there are just so many minutes in the school day. We wanted to let parents know about the cost and the great difficulty in scheduling."
Of the 420 minutes in the school day, the state mandates 300 minutes of core instruction.
The meeting will be held Thursday from 6:30 to 7:30 in the cafeteria at Riverside Middle School.
"Spanish can be a part of the 300 minutes of core instruction. But if you take minutes to do one thing then you are going to have fewer minutes to do something else," Putnam said.
Riverside Middle is unique in that half of its population comes from Stevens Creek Elementary School, where Spanish instruction is offered from kindergarten through fifth grades, while the other half comes from Riverside Elementary, which doesn't teach a foreign language.
Just this year, the Columbia County school system began offering foreign-language instruction to seventh- and eighth graders - one unit of credit if they pass both courses. But in Riverside Middle's situation, some pupils are coming into the school with six years of Spanish under their belts, while others have none.
"We are obligated to follow the curriculum for Spanish I and we must follow it whether the child has had Spanish or not," Putnam said. "It is the same curriculum that a freshman at Greenbrier or Lakeside High School would have."
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