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Spanish becomes part of the R. Roger Rowe School’s elementary curriculum

RANCHO SANTA FE — Following much discussion and a parent survey, the Rancho Santa Fe School District decided to implement a foreign language for its K-5 students.

And Spanish is the language of choice for the new school year.

According to Superintendent Lindy Delaney, students in grades K-5 are provided the opportunity to take art, music computers, drama, ocean science, and public speaking in a six-week rotation called the Elective Wheel.

“We will be incorporating Ocean Science in the science program and public speaking will be incorporated to the time students spend in the school library,” she said. “Spanish will replace those subjects in the K-5 Elective Wheel.”

Part of this decision-making process also included elementary school Principal Kimberly Pinkerton.

At a previous school board meeting, Pinkerton told the board that she and her colleagues felt very strongly that if they were looking at an introductory program, which is how parents ultimately responded; a two-day-a-week program would offer this.

The April online survey was sent to 798 parental households with 198 responding.

While the response rate was low, the district believed that for those who did respond, offering language was important.

Pinkerton told the board when new families attend a “meet and greet” the number one question asked is if the children are exposed to a foreign language.

“So I know that there’s a definite interest from the families that have been coming in for the past several years is for us to offer something,” Pinkerton said. “So we want to be mindful of that, and we want to do it in a purposeful way.”

Pinkerton said the district would be remiss if they removed Ocean Science or public speaking since they are valuable parts of the work that they do in school.

Both would be incorporated.

While almost 50 percent of parents taking the survey preferred foreign language three days a week, both Delaney and Pinkerton believed it would decrease the instructional time spent on math, science reading, and writing.

Having Spanish as part of the Elective Wheel was a better choice since it would not remove any core educational subjects.

The estimated cost for the language program has been tallied at $154,000.

Delaney said the district had Spanish for its students in elementary school years ago. Although it wasn’t successful back then, due to the recent interest and parent survey, it has returned. She also believes the new program will remedy the carry-over and mastery issues they had in the past.

“We will re-evaluate this program throughout the year,” Delaney said.