Spanish could be coming to Foothills elementary schools - Tucson Local Media: Import

Spanish could be coming to Foothills elementary schools

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Posted: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 12:00 am

January 18, 2006 - The Superintendent of the Catalina Foothills School District is hoping the governing board will say "Sí" on a proposal to reinstate the elementary level Spanish language program.

After more than a year of researching the program by a district design team, the suggestion to bring back the Spanish language instruction to grades one through five was brought to the governing board Jan. 10 at its regularly scheduled meeting.

The district has been unsuccessful with keeping the elementary level Spanish instruction in its schools, said Assistant Superintendent Terry Downey. Since she entered the district in the late 1970s, the program has come and gone three times, she said.

The last time the Spanish language program was cut to the elementary schools was in the 2000-2001 school year, said Superintendent Mary Kamerzell.

Each time cuts were made, it was a matter of funding, she said.

"It hadn't reached a place where it was a normal program," she said. "So, it was easy to take away the language because it wasn't that serious."

The governing board will not vote on the proposal. If it decides to go through with it, it must find a way to account for the new expense within next school year's budget.

The proposal was brought to the governing board by Kamerzell and Mary Jo Conery, assistant superintendent for 21st Century Learning.

If the program is given the green light by the governing board, students would be instructed in Spanish for a minimum of 30 minutes each day.

The design team of teachers and parents is recommending hiring eight new full-time teachers at a salary of $49,500 each.

New materials would be needed, at an estimated $40,000 for all four elementary schools, and $3,200 for curriculum development.

The district would need to allocate $439,200 to reinstate the program.

"The dollars need to be uncovered somewhere," Kamerzell said.

Kamerzell called for using funds from the district's maintenance and operation budget and possibly paring with the district's foundation, which aids in fundraising for programs that cannot be funded by the district. In the past, the foundation has contributed up to $350,000 toward teacher's salaries and programs.

The salary level was decided by averaging the salaries of current teachers, Kamerzell said.

"We don't know who these eight people are and what kind of experience they would have," she said, adding that it is important to consider the level of experience into salary costs.

To bring the program to the elementary schools, the amount of time students are in school would need to change, she said.

Thirty minutes would be added onto the elementary school day to make up for the language instruction.

The team is considering having the high school day start 15 minutes later and go 15 minutes longer, to make up for school bus transportation issues, Kamerzell said. That idea is still under consideration and no proposal has been made, she said.

Kamerzell requested the board look over the proposal and consider it in its budget deliberations for the 2006-2007 school year, she said.

"It would be great if we could get to a place by early April," she said to make a decision.

In other business, the governing board voted on appointing a new president and vice president from among its members.

Mary Lou Richerson was elected to serve as the president for the 2006 calendar year and Carole Siegler will serve as Vice President.

An award of appreciation was presented to outgoing president Cliff Altfeld for his work with the district.

Erin Schmidt covers the Catalina Foothills community and schools. She can be reached at 797-4384 ext 125 or

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