The governor might not have gotten the message, but the Columbia County Board of Education did.
The board included an additional expenditure of $142,964 in the school system's 2007-08 budget Tuesday to save the foreign language program at Stevens Creek Elementary School for at least one more year.
The school board and the Stevens Creek PTO have subsidized the program in the past. However, the board anted up additional funding after Gov. Sonny Perdue cut the school's state share of foreign language money in the 2007-08 state budget.
About 75 Stevens Creek parents and children protested the move Tuesday at Savannah Rapids Pavilion when the governor arrived there for a post-legislative breakfast.
At the school board meeting, board member Wayne Bridges said the system cannot depend on politics to sustain the program.
"This is not the first time we've had this yanked by somebody in Atlanta," he said. "We need to decide if this is a program worth having in our county and if we can fund it.
"This is what happens when you rely on promises and things of that nature. I think we need to be deliberate about how we go forward after this year."
Mike Sleeper was the only board member who balked at the proposal to provide additional funding for the program at Stevens Creek, which is the only county elementary school that offers foreign language instruction.
He said if the school system contributed to one elementary school's program, then it should contribute to all of them.
"You're clearly not in a position to consider an expansion," Superintendent Tommy Price said.
The cost of the Stevens Creek program in the coming year will total $233,839, which includes salaries and benefits for four teachers.
The governor's reallocation of $1.6 million in state funding for foreign language programs left Stevens Creek with $1,200 for its Spanish classes.
Last year, the school, which had completed the first year of what had been proposed as a three-year grant cycle, received a $120,000 state grant.
The board also unanimously approved the $166 million budget, which is expected to be amended when the final tax digest figures are available, for the 2007-08 school year.
In other business, the school board awarded a $10 million contract to Mabus Brothers Construction Co. Inc., to perform site work at the new high school on Chamblin Road.
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