Traverse City elementary schools will add world language classes, without cutting into time for learning music and art. The TCAPS board voted last night to add world languages to the third, fourth and fifth grade curriculums across the district.
The staff had recommended cutting some class time from music and art to save money, but school board members, including Scott Hardy, said that was the wrong approach.
"If we really believe in this then we better be willing to take the risk, spend the funds and move forward with this. We can't do it half-heartedly or we're going to get nothing out of this," Hardy says.
It will cost Traverse City schools about $300,000 dollars to add world language classes to upper elementary grades.
Gary Appel, who cast the lone vote against the proposal, says it will only make the looming financial problems worse for Traverse City. Under Governor Snyder's budget proposal, TCAPS would have to cut more than $6 million dollars from its budget next year.
"Make no mistake, it's going to come from somewhere. Increased class size, you name it. You name what you value. I think we're kicking the can down the road to spend $300,000 dollars now," he says.
Board member Julie Puckett said she could not cut into the small amount of time elementary children now spend in music, art and gym class.
"If you look at the numbers for a whole week: art, music, P.E., 165 minutes out of the whole week that's nothing," she says. "And to cut it just seems like we're taking away from the core curriculum in those areas."
TCAPS officials say if they don't add more world language instruction, students will have trouble meeting state graduation requirements in 2016. Research shows learning a second language is easier for younger children. There was no discussion about what language to teach.
IPR outlined the issues in a recent feature report.