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F-M BOE considers plan to start foreign languages one year earlier

— The Fayetteville-Manlius Board of Education is considering a proposal to begin offering four foreign languages a year earlier at F-M — in seventh grade instead of eighth.

“It is the opinion of the administration that now is the time to make this important addition to our Languages Other Than English program,” said Superintendent Corliss Kaiser. “We feel it is in the best interest of all students to begin learning foreign languages as early as possible. Because of the budget reductions and efficiencies practiced over the last three years, we feel we can responsibly add this item to the 2013-14 budget without jeopardizing any other current programs or services.”

F-M has the ability to add seventh grade foreign language next year in part due to declining enrollment, Kaiser said. Because there are fewer students, the number of sections that would be required to teach seventh grade foreign language is less than in the past.

Under the proposal, the district would hire two new LOTE teachers and restructure its existing LOTE staff, the superintendent said. The new hires would cost F-M an estimated $150,000 including salaries and benefits.

Kaiser went over the proposal at the F-M Board of Education meeting Nov. 5. If the board agrees that funds should be budgeted in 2013-14 to support the plan, sixth grade students will begin enrolling in French, German, Latin or Spanish in spring for the 2013-14 school year. The board is expected to make that decision at its Dec. 10 meeting.

The district has been studying the idea of offering foreign languages earlier than at eighth grade to increase students’ language proficiency for the past three years. In October 2011, a task force comprised of teachers and administrators recommended offering only Spanish in seventh grade when funds became available.

And now, that plan has been expanded to include all four languages in the LOTE program, Kaiser said.

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