Nebraska district cutting middle school language courses

(MGN)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A school district board in eastern Nebraska has voted to eliminate middle school French and German language classes.

Millard Public Schools board also voted to change middle school schedules to consist of seven periods a day instead of eight for the 2018-19 school year, the Omaha World-Herald reported . The changes will save the district about $1 million.

The changes are part of an overhaul spurred by stagnant test scores, officials said. Fewer class periods mean teachers will have more instructional time in core academic subjects, which officials hope will boost student success on assessments, officials said.

Student proficiency levels on state math, reading and science assessments have been "inconsistent and do not show a pattern of growth," according to a report on the proposal.

The decisions were largely based on instructional time and not finances, said Board President Mike Pate.

Some students and parents say these were the types of cuts voters had hoped to avoid when they approved an increase to the district's taxing authority in November.

"I feel betrayed as a taxpayer," said Pam Hoover, a retired Millard South German teacher who supported the increase.

The district is trying to use restraint with its additional taxing authority, said board member Dave Anderson.

But members of the public said cutting languages diminishes the quality of the district.

Alli Lueders, 17, told the board that languages help expand her world view. Lueders is president of the German Club at Millard West High School.

"The limits of my language are the limits of my world," she said.

Language courses will still be offered at the high school level. Spanish language courses will also be available in sixth, seventh and eighth grades because more students request to take Spanish courses, officials said.

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