By Kim Walter -- email@example.com
Warren County High School administrators were pleasantly surprised after receiving approval to add a third Spanish teacher at the July 12 school board meeting.
Originally, administrators came to the board asking for a part-time instructor, but during the meeting it became clear that a full-time teacher was necessary to accommodate student need.
Warren County High School Principal Ernestine Jordan explained that the number of students requesting Spanish classes far exceeded staff resources. Currently, 384 students are asking to take Spanish I-IV, which created an overflow of several classes for the two teachers.
In past years, Jordan said staff was able to convince and "beg" students to take a different language. While that helped, this year's numbers would not allow the school to use such a strategy.
"Classes have been packed since being in our building, and we're just trying to make due," Jordan told the school board during the meeting.
In scheduling students' classes, priority is given to those closest to graduation, but that method made it impossible to schedule rising eighth graders for Spanish I, she said.
An alternative to the added position would be eliminating higher level Spanish courses, even though some are required for an Advanced Studies Diploma, according to the explanation for the request.
Board member Joanne Cherefko pointed out that more competitive colleges want to see additional years of a language. Jordan agreed, and said a full-time teacher could help support students in Spanish IV and V.
"I thought we needed a full-time teacher from the beginning," Cherefko said during the meeting. Superintendent Pam McInnis said transitional funds were available for the full-time position, and the board unanimously voted to approve that request, to which Jordan replied, "Gracias!"
Requests for foreign languages have grown by 37 percent at Warren County High School, as 180 students asked to participate in 2010, but 247 requested a spot for the 2012-2013 academic year.
With two teachers, the class sizes for Spanish were almost all close to 30 students, but with an additional teacher, the number per class will be in the low 20s, according to scenario predictions presented by the school.
"It's just difficult to give any type of support to individual students when the classes are so large," Jordan said.
The school also predicted that pressure would be taken off other languages that are nearing capacity since some students who were transferred to French or Latin will be able to take Spanish.
The new Spanish teacher has already been hired and will be included in the personnel report at the school board's meeting this Thursday.