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New Chinese program on hold for now

The Lewiston-Porter School Board on Tuesday delayed approving the district's long-planned Chinese Language and Culture Program.

While the board has lent the proposed program its full support in the past, member Scott A. Stepien said he wanted the board to see the program curriculum and review it before voting to approve it.

"We authorized the [new] superintendent [R. Christopher Roser] to develop a Chinese Language and Culture Program curriculum to be presented [to the board] at a later date. The board is not going to approve things, the substance of which we are unaware," Stepien said.

Just back from six days at an educational conference in Tianjin, China, Lewiston-Porter High School Principal Paul J. Casseri, who has been arranging and developing the program, said, "We have a very specialized curriculum we will be delivering to the high school, middle school and intermediate program. It will be ready to present to the board at its Nov. 18 meeting."

The board could consider approving the program at that session.

The program is supposed to start in January and run through June at no cost to the district.

Tianjin No. 32 High School, Lew-Port's Chinese sister school, has agreed to send one of its own English teachers to the district to instruct students in Mandarin Chinese and Chinese culture at the intermediate, middle and high school levels. Casseri said he hopes to offer two classes at the high school and one class each at the middle and intermediate schools.

The teacher selected to work here for a semester is Yang Yi, 27. She will continue to be paid during that time by her Chinese school. She will reside with a member of the district's teaching staff and another area resident during her stay, Casseri said.

Yi majored in English Education at Tianjin Normal University, where she graduated with a bachelor's degree. She is certified to teach English in China at the secondary level.

Meanwhile, Lewiston-Porter is continuing its student exchange [program with Tianjin No. 2. About 18 Chinese students will come to Lew-Port High School for two weeks in February, and the high school will send a contingent of students to the Chinese high school for about three weeks in April. The schools ran an identical student exchange last semester.

Tuesday represented the first time in 39 months a board meeting was guided by a superintendent. The last time that happened was in July 2005 just before former Superintendent Whitney K. Vantine left the district to take a job on Long Island. Vantine is now Superintendent of the City of Tonawanda School District.

Roser showed good humor and declined to comment on his first meeting towards the end of the session, saying, "I think everyone has heard enough."

Roser honored State Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane, by declaring this Thursday George Maziarz Day in the district in thanks for his obtaining a $20,000 state grant for the purchase of three interactive SMART Boards that have just been installed in the middle school's three seventh grade classrooms at a cost of $6,000 apiece. The other $2,000 was used to purchase audio-visual equipment for the high school.

e-mail: pwestmoore@buffnews.com

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