Boasting top academic programs and extracurricular activities, it is no surprise that the Rancho Santa Fe School District is constantly busy. From working to strengthen the curriculum to ensuring funding for the popular robotics program, Rancho Santa Fe board members stay hard at work.
More recently, the District Board of Trustees had a discussion about adding Spanish back to the K-6 curriculum. Superintendent Lindy Delaney doesn’t doubt the benefits of foreign language for children. The difficulty, she suggests, is in finding the room to implement it without subtracting from other core subjects, including reading, writing, math, social studies, science and student electives.
“We’re in a tough situation where our days are full,” Delaney said. “The teachers think (foreign language) is a value, but they don’t feel like there’s anything they want to take out of the schedule to put it in.”
The discussion was initially prompted by parent Linda Leong. Back in October, Leong came to the board with a petition signed by 60 people – all whom wanted Spanish to be returned to the elementary school. Earlier this month, Leong came back with even more signatures.
Delaney suggested that the program would have to be offered 4 days a week for thirty minutes at a time for students in kindergarten through second grade, and 4 days a week for forty minutes for fourth and fifth graders. The program would cost $200,000 to $250,000.
Delaney speaks from experience. The district used to offer Spanish twice a week, but students found it difficult to retain skills and truly master the language. “It felt like we were appeasing parents and checking the box that we offered it, but it didn’t really help the students,” she said.
The district provides the opportunity for a before-school, parent-paid Spanish program. There was not enough interest this year to actually form a class; only four parents signed their children up.
The trustees are trying to understand how a petition has signatures from 110 parents who want Spanish taught, while only four signed up for the program. Trustee Marti Ritto suggested finding a way to fund an after-school program, like robotics.
While adding Spanish to the district curriculum is still a topic of discussion, next month’s meeting is likely to bring continued progress and more concrete plans.