NEWBURYPORT — Thanks to an unforeseen uptick in Chapter 70 funds from the state, the Newburyport School Department is making good on a promise to restore Spanish and German classes at Rupert A. Nock Middle School this year.
While the new foreign language program won’t match the robust curriculum that dissolved in 2007 to balance a decimated budget, Superintendent Marc Kerble said it represents a creative use of approximately $94,000 of additional funding.
The return of the classes is being applauded by both parents and School Committee members who went on record earlier this year in expressing a fervent desire for the restoration of the program.
“At the School Committee (budget) meeting, I said I was committed to bringing back some of the foreign language program if we got more money,” Kerble said. “We’re going to start this in September 2012, and hopefully we can grow the program over a three-year period by extending the time.”
Under the new program, middle school students will receive some level of foreign language curriculum. Sixth-graders will receive 20 sessions, or a trimester, in either Spanish or German. Seventh-graders will get a half year and eighth-graders will receive an entire year of study. Class time will be offered to all students twice in the six-day schedule....
Kerble said the program will cost approximately $63,000 to start, .... andexpects (that) finding the right person who is capable of providing quality instruction in both languages will be key, he said. “What’s most important is that we get a highly qualified, dynamic teacher,” Kerble said.
The superintendent said his plans to grow the program next year will be guided by a mini ad hoc committee that he hopes to assemble early this year.
Kerble said the expansion of the school district’s foreign language program is vitally important, especially given the hurdles students face in tackling languages for the first time when they get to high school.
“I think people are pleased we’re moving forward,” Kerble said. “I think people would like to have a robust foreign language program right out of the gate. But this is going to be exciting. It will be new, and it will be exciting.”