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School board to discuss introducing foreign languages into schools (03/06/2013)
By Sarah Squires

On Thursday, the Winona Area Public Schools (WAPS) Board of Education will discuss ideas that could enhance foreign language opportunities for students in kindergarten through fourth grade. 

It is a proposal that has been floated many times, but adding language options would come at an expense for the district at a time when budget cuts are looming. One concept that has been discussed in the past, however, might be a less expensive route to adding more foreign language instruction over time. 

Under this approach, the district would add bilingual teachers year to year, starting at a primary grade level. Each year, the district would add bilingual teachers to the next grade, that is, the class with which the program started. Over time, this would allow the district to add language options at several grade levels while not adding teachers who teach foreign language exclusively. 

Field trip policy

The School Board is also expected to discuss the district field trip policy during the meeting Thursday night. 

The rules governing student travel have been overhauled repeatedly in recent years. This time, the board is expected to clarify when the School Board should vote on a request for student travel, and when trips can simply be approved by district administrators. 

The most recent efforts to revise the travel policy came after a 2007 choir trip. The student and chaperone group departed before raising the balance of more than $25,000 needed to pay the travel agency, resulting in a collection agency approaching the district to settle the bill. A district investigation later showed that a female student on the trip had been sexually harassed, and that students were allowed to attend a night club in the country—where the drinking age is 16—without chaperones. 

School board members then asked for a field trip policy that would provide for better financial oversight and chaperone requirements. 

By 2010, board members began expressing frustration that the rules governing student travel were still not being followed, and asked that the policy be rewritten again. In May 2011, board members suggested that foreign travel portions of the policy may need revision. They asked for additional changes in July 2012, requesting that forms that provide information on how student trips are related to curriculum be retooled. 



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