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Changes to language program eyed

The foreign language program at East Aurora Middle School is in line for restructuring to accommodate changing student interest and fluctuating class enrollment.

The School Board on Monday debated the issue at length, noting that 70 incoming seventh-graders are enrolled in Spanish and another 40 in Latin, but just six students signed up for French.

The board decided it was too late to make any changes for fall 2011, but the administration will study the issue in the coming school year with some changes expected in the future.

"I don't think this is going to be a one-year thing," Superintendent Brian Russ said of the inconsistencies in enrollment and changing student interest.

Spanish garners the highest enrollment, but there continues to be a big surge in student interest in Latin, administrators noted. The district's budget is built around offering three foreign languages at the middle school level and, in the end, the school will hold a French class for six students in the fall.

"All languages are important," board member Eric Sweet said, noting the need for balance. But Sweet noted the need to make more effective use of teachers and take close note of whether it's wise to run a class for just six students.

"I really have difficulty as a board in determining [specific] class sizes," board President Daniel Brunson said. "I'd like to give the administration some flexibility here to study this."

Seven sections of foreign language were offered in the school year just wrapping up, while six sections are planned for the new year for a smaller seventh-grade class.

Middle schoolers may no longer get their first choice for foreign language study. "I think we're stepping away from what we've typically done, always giving the middle schoolers their first choice," Russ said.

In other news, a board majority informally decided it would accept an offer from the East Aurora Wrestling Boosters to fully fund the modified wrestling program, allowing the district to reinstate it for next winter.

In another move, Russ resigned his director of instructional technology/chief information officer position, since he has been named superintendent. The board has eliminated the instructional technology post to realize a $40,000 savings. The two combined titles had paid about $100,500. Curriculum director Brad Gibson will serve as chief information officer. The board had not yet named someone to handle technology for the district.

e-mail: krobinson@buffnews.com

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