F-M district officials reach compromise with German program

For the first time, the Fayetteville-Manlius School District will offer eighth grade students the opportunity to take German I through distance learning online in 2011-12.

The decision comes after two board of education meetings where numerous residents spoke out against the administration's proposal to eliminate German I at the middle school level due to low enrollment. Neither Wellwood nor Eagle Hill middle schools had enough students enrolled to meet F-M's minimum class size requirement of 14 students, according to district officials.

Through distance learning, eighth grade students for 2011-12 can take German 1 online if the combined class from both schools meets the class size threshold. Administrators said they are currently working with middle school counselors to review student interest in the course.

In a prior phone interview with the Eagle Bulletin, BOE President John Cucinotta said the district had received numerous letters from people who attended the April 4 meeting as well as from F-M graduates who still continue to benefit from learning the language.

Parents, students and graduates lauded the foreign language department and its instructors, one of whom recently won a state-wide award. Last fall, German teacher Kate Stewart was awarded the Ruth E. Wasley Distinguished Teacher Award K-12 by The New York State Association of Foreign Language Teachers.

"We are excited at the possibility of using distance learning as a means to allow our students to experience a course that would otherwise be canceled due to low enrollment," said Superintendent Corliss Kaiser. "In the future, we will continue to look for creative solutions that best address the challenges we face and to look forward to working with our teachers and community members to develop those solutions."

The district already has the technology available to offer the German course online so there will be no extra costs to taxpayers. There will also be no additional personnel costs.

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