The Columbia County school system will change the way it delivers Spanish to middle-schoolers next year.
"There have been concerns voiced about how we are trying to do that," said School Superintendent Tommy Price. "Can we do it better?"
School officials surveyed school councils and principals to see how it could best be implemented at their schools. The results of the survey were presented to the school board at its meeting Tuesday night.
"I think schools will be appreciative of the fact that we are listening to them and are willing to do what they feel needs to be done," Board Member Regina Buccafusco said.
This is only the second year the school system has offered Spanish at the middle school. Pupils who successfully complete it in seventh and eighth grade earn one high school credit. School administrators have questioned whether the current 30-minute class is enough time to teach the high-school-level course.
Columbia Middle School, Evans Middle School, Greenbrier Middle School will alternate Spanish and physical eduction next year, with each class lasting 45 minutes.
These pupils will fall 7.5 hours short of the state's physical education requirement, which will require a waiver from the board.
Grovetown Middle School plans to use 35 minutes slated for core classes to teach Spanish. Harlem Middle plans to offer it as a connections class but will seek a physical education waiver for band and chorus pupils.
For those three schools planning to alternate the foreign language with physical education, it will require some tough choices for parents and pupils who will have to decide between Spanish and such electives as band, chorus, art, home economics and business, said Evans Middle School Principal Kirk Wright.
"I hope parents will be patient. We are going to try to make it work," he said.
A pupil can take Spanish if they score in the 70th percentile on the Criterion Reference Test, or at the recommendation of their principal. Columbia County currently has 746 middle-schoolers enrolled in the program and expects to have 538 next year.
In other business, the school board decided that it will not require students and teachers to make up the two days they missed because of bad weather.
"My recommendation is that we enact state law, which allows us to forgive these days," Price told the board.
The days would count as excused absences.
Board Member Lee Muns was the only board member who disagreed.
"Taxpayers are paying (teachers) for those days and are getting nothing for it," he said. "They are out an expenditure with no return on their investment."
Price also reviewed the school's emergency response plan with the board. The recent power outage, he said, pointed out some weaknesses, including the phone system at the central office, which died without power, and some generators that weren't working.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.