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Letter: Irvington School Budget Cuts Hurt Students

The interim superintendent’s 2012-13 budget has proposed the following: eliminating 5th and 6th grade Spanish and French instruction; and at grades 9-12 significant cuts to the Spanish and French course offerings plus larger class sizes for many of these subjects (putting Irvington High School students at a disadvantage when they apply to colleges and upon entering college too)!
Research shows cognitive benefits to children who begin world language early, and these benefits carry over into all of their core subjects. Benefits also include: instilling a love of language learning plus greater acceptance of other cultures and diversity. We are a global society and kids need to start gaining knowledge and skills in a World Foreign Language at elementary grades since it builds into stronger mastery of the language as public school students in higher grades (middle through high school and college) and increases the chances that children be even more fluent in the foreign language (reading, writing and speaking plus life-long use of this valuable skill).
Speaking a foreign language other than English (which is the main language most of the students in grades K-12 speak, read and write) is a life-long necessity, a skill set and valuable accomplishment for our Irvington Students who take World Foreign Languages in grades five and six, Middle School and at Irvington High School. Students who take Spanish or French in all of these grade levels will be even more competitive with their academic and life skills for gaining employment after gradating from higher education. Yes, many hiring executives value speaking a second (or even more) languages other than English when deciding who to hire for many occupations at all levels of employment!
If the 6th grade foreign language is cut, instead of filling the time gap with academic instruction most students will have up to two hours a day of a required lunch period and two study halls. Irvington school leadership can call the not-required for learning 80 minutes of non-academic time: study halls…. study skills … time to do homework, or call it what often happens during the current 6th grade study hall “time for kids to do nothing” or  “more time for kids to hang out with friends instead of academics.”
Spanish and French has already suffered losses at grades five, six and nine-12. If further cuts are approved, one new excellent full-time world language teacher will lose her job and another great world language teacher would have her salary significantly reduced (from .80 to .20 of her salary) which may mean we lose her too!
The Irvington School District Business Office for budget purposes allots up to $80,000 for any teacher’s salary. The reduction of 1.6 world language teachers in the proposed school budget equals about $128,000. The proposed school budget is $51,075,000.
The interim superintendent added $180,000 in the 2012-2013 budget for  “assistant superintendent for curriculum and personnel” – a position not needed on a permanent basis since 2008-09. Main Street School Principal Raina Kor now fills the “essential” parts of this position for $25,000 in addition to her existing job (for full salary as principal).
You can help stop the cutting of Spanish and French in the Irvington School District by joining other concerned parents, students and residents who are making their voices heard during public Board of Education meetings held on March 6 and April 3 at 7:30 p.m. in the Campus Presentation Room at Irvington High School.

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