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More language offerings for Monroe eighth-graders
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MONROE - Eighth-graders will be able to take a full year of German or Spanish classes under a plan adopted by the Monroe school board Monday.

Students currently can take one semester of one or both languages. Beginning next year, students can opt to take a full year of Spanish and German.

The plan also calls for offering a fifth year of the languages in 2013-14, when next year's eighth-graders will be seniors.

Of the 186 eighth-graders at Monroe Middle School, 161 (87 percent) take either German or Spanish class. At Monroe High School, 539 of 783 students (69 percent) take a foreign language. The highest percentage is among freshman (78 percent) and decreases steadily through seniors (50 percent).

The annual cost of the extending the language program will be about $57,000, the cost of adding a teacher.

Ultimately, the district's budget will determine whether the eighth-grade proposal can be implemented, Superintendent Larry Brown said.

"We hope we can do it," and it appears the district will have money to do so, he said. But "final approval will be in the budget."

School board member Larry Eakins echoed Brown's caveat. "It's not set in stone. Budget concerns we don't see at the moment could derail it," he said.

The district is close to having to add a Spanish teacher regardless of the eighth-grade plan, Director of Curriculum and Instruction Jennifer Thayer said.

"We're busting at the seams in Spanish," she said. Registration at the high school soon will begin, then the district can evaluate numbers and the need for another position. Most foreign language teachers go back and forth between the middle and high school; depending on enrollment and whether the eighth-grade plan makes it through the budget, it may be possible to have teachers dedicated to either the middle or high school.

The board did not take action on an additional element of the plan to include one quarter of Spanish and one quarter of German for seventh-graders.