School officials eye foreign language requirement

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Without taking a formal vote, many of the School Committee members voiced approval for Canton High School to add a two-year foreign language requirement for graduation. The committee will likely endorse the requirement at a future meeting once World Languages Director Heidi Olson presents a formal program of studies. The new requirement, if approved, would take effect for next year’s incoming freshmen.

rodman1The subject came up at the December 18 School Committee meeting as the board reviewed a capital request to replace 30 computers in the CHS language lab. Speaking on behalf of Olson, who was unable to attend, CHS Principal Derek Folan said the computers are out of date and cannot accept any more upgrades. Folan said the language lab is very important for the department as it allows students to participate in interactive dialogues. He said it is also used by staff members for webinars and for administering Advanced Placement exams.

Folan said both he and Olson would like to pursue some kind of language requirement, which has become increasingly common at the high school level. Folan said the details of the requirement still need to be worked out and said it is possible that students could fill the requirement with one year each of two different languages. He also suggested that American Sign Language be offered as part of the curriculum.

Many of the committee members, including Chairman Cindy Thomas and Reuki Schutt, endorsed Folan’s suggestions. The committee also approved spending $15,020 (down from the original estimate of $23,020) toward replacing the language computers. The savings of $8,000 will be used for Performing Arts chairs and carts.

In other business, the committee began examining class sizes at both the middle and high schools as it prepares to submit an operating budget for the next fiscal year. The committee has heard many concerns about classes of 30 or more students at both schools and began to informally examine the data with Folan Thursday night. The committee already has a guideline in place that recommends class sizes of 22 to 24 students at CHS. Some of the larger classes are the result of combining advanced language sections. Other subjects with large class sizes include music, wellness, biology, and psychology.

Committee members decided to continue the discussion at a future meeting and plan to invite Folan and GMS Principal Dr. Bill Conard back to discuss a possible cap on combined classes. The committee’s decisions on class size will also determine whether more teachers need to be hired for the next school year.

See this week’s Canton Citizen for more highlights from the December 18 School Committee meeting. Not a subscriber? Click here to order your subscription today.

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