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Decatur to hire language teachers

By Bayne Hughes
DAILY Education Writer 340-2432

The Decatur city school board approved a plan, which includes eliminating three teacher positions, to restart the implementation process of the International Baccalaureate's Middle Years Program.

Superintendent Sam Houston said Tuesday the cost of hiring foreign language teachers for Brookhaven, Cedar Ridge and Brookhaven middle schools was slowing the process for this grades 6-10 program.

International Baccalaureate requires schools to implement the Middle Years Program and show its success before acceptance into IB.

With approval of the plan, he hopes the three middle schools would become official IB schools by the start of the 2007-08 school year.

School board member Dwight Jett Jr. applauded the move, saying he would like to see the school system add foreign language teachers to the elementary schools.

Houston said he met with Assistant Superintendent Ed Nichols, Director of Curriculum Jeanne Payne and Principals Larry Collier (Brookhaven), Beth Lacy (Cedar Ridge) and Dwight Satterfield (Oak Park) to discuss ways to fund the foreign language teachers.

He said each school needs two Spanish teachers and two teachers of another language. Each school already has one Spanish teacher and one French teacher who teach three sections each of eighth-grade students.

The board approved a resolution Tuesday eliminating the family and consumer science education program at each school. This program was one of four related arts programs that also include music, art and technology.

The elimination of these classes means one non-tenured teacher will lose her job, while two tenured teachers must find another position in the school system or risk unemployment.

"Our desire is to find them another place to work in the school system," Houston said.

The school system now must hire 3 foreign language teacher units, including one for West Decatur Elementary School, to fulfill the requirements of a desegregation plan the board is implementing when school starts in August, at a total cost of about $200,000. This will give the system seven foreign language teachers in the middle schools and in one elementary school.

"This will cut the cost of hiring foreign language teachers in half," Houston said.

The Middle Years Program requires each student to take at least 50 hours each year of foreign language. Houston said the new plan would give students more hours than they need to meet the requirement.

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