It looks like the Rock Hill school district's elementary school foreign language program might be expanding after all.
Superintendent Lynn Moody told the school board two weeks ago that there wasn't enough money in next year's budget to add foreign language teachers at the five elementary schools that don't have them. But after going back to the drawing board, Moody told the board this week that she and her staff have come up with a way to pay for the additional teachers.
"We locked ourselves up until we came up with a creative idea," she said.
That idea involves moving some certified teachers, who have higher salaries, to vacant jobs that require certified teachers. That would free up other positions to be filled with noncertified teachers, who would cost the district less.
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The district says it would cost about $100,000 to pay three teachers to offer foreign language at the five elementary schools without it: Ebinport, Lesslie, Mount Holly, Old Pointe and York Road.
The district has been phasing in elementary school Spanish, French and German teachers for several years. Advocates say starting foreign language early gives students a better chance of becoming fluent by the time they graduate from high school and that it improves achievement in other subject areas.
Whether to pay for the additional foreign language teachers is one of many choices being weighed by district officials and school board members as they try to balance the budget in a tough year financially.
Changes in school funding laws that replaced homeowner occupied property taxes with a 1-cent sales tax divvied up by the state have left fast-growing districts such as Rock Hill scrambling to find enough money for next school year.
Moody's budget proposal includes about $128.5 million in expenses. That's about $3 million less than the district has to spend. She has suggested making up the difference by raising taxes on businesses and other nonhomeowner occupied property and by borrowing money from the school district's general fund, which is like a savings account.
The school board will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget June 9.
WANT TO GO?
• What: Public hearing on the 2008-2009 Rock Hill school district budget
• When: 6 p.m. June 9
• Where: School district office, 660 N. Anderson Road