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District 303 may reinstate middle school electives

ST. CHARLES – St. Charles School District 303 may reinstate middle school elective classes that were subject to budget cuts three years ago.

The Learning and Teaching Committee met Tuesday to discuss a plan to allow middle school students to take foreign language classes along with more career and technical education classes.

Jason Pearson, assistant superintendent for sixth- through 12th-grade education, said budget cuts a few years ago changed the way the district delivered exploratory class offerings to students.

“It has since been maintained as a really strong program, but it didn’t have all the pieces we wanted,” he said.

He said the district has been running on what they call the “Band-Aid solution.” On Tuesday, he proposed a more permanent solution to elective class offerings.

The proposal, which the full school board is slated to discuss during its next meeting, would allow middle school students to take two electives outside of physical education class rather than one.

Pearson said that would address one challenge the district had when it came to students who wanted to take a foreign language but also wanted to be in band or choir.

The proposed scheduling change also paves way for offering foreign language at the middle school level again. Pearson said Richmond Intermediate School is the only elementary school in the district to offer foreign language, and the option to take foreign language classes at the middle school level halted three years ago when cuts were made.

The schedule would not only make room for foreign language instruction in middle school, but it would keep students with previous foreign language instruction in elementary school separate from students who would be entering a foreign language class for the first time.

“A student who has no foreign language experience will not be in a class with students who went to school with elementary foreign language,” Pearson said.

Students who take foreign language classes in middle school would then test into different levels of high school foreign language classes.

Pearson said if the schedule changes are approved, the teachers’ contract would need to be altered. He said the current contract specifies teachers can’t teach more than five periods, and the new schedule would require some teachers to teach six periods.

Committee chair Kathy Hewel said she thought the proposed scheduling changes fit in well with the district’s science, technology, engineering and math curriculum, and also irons out concerns parents had when cuts were made.

“For three years, parents have been dealing with this,” she said. “This seems to address all or most of those issues.”

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