Greater Latrobe School District will continue to offer in-person instruction for students taking French and German during the 2022-23 school year, Superintendent Dr. Georgia Teppert said at Tuesday’s regular school board meeting.
The board this spring announced a recommendation to gradually phase out French and German starting with the 2022-23 school year, where seventh-grade students would enroll in Spanish for their world language. Under that plan, when students entered their ninth-grade year, if they chose to schedule for French and German, or any other language, they would have had to do so through the eAcademy+ program at the district’s expense.
Teppert said previously because of lagging enrollment in French and German courses, world language instructors for those languages don’t have enough classes to fill their teaching schedules.
For the 2021-22 school year, she noted that 112 students in seventh through 12th grade elected German, 133 students elected French and 567 students elected Spanish as their language choices.
More than a dozen individuals, many of them recent college graduates from the Greater Latrobe Senior High School classes of 2016 and 2017, spoke out at a board meeting this spring regarding the recommendation to not offer French and German in a brick and mortar setting. Many others expressed their displeasure on social media.
“Students coming into grade seven next school year will have the option of scheduling German, French or Spanish,” Teppert said Tuesday. “This will give another year for our German and French instructors to work to grow their programs and increase enrollment.”
She added the administration will continue to monitor enrollment for French and German courses, as well as “determine the best way to utilize our staff and meet the educational needs of our students.”
Also Tuesday, some parents again raised concerns over the state’s mask mandate, with one parent asking the board to overturn the order during the meeting.
That same parent also felt Greater Latrobe should have provided a method of notification — such as email or voice message — to parents regarding any updates to the mandate, claiming that last week’s Commonwealth Court decision and subsequent appeal by the Gov. Tom Wolf Administration created confusion among district parents.
“Nothing changed with the order, so no communication went out,” Teppert said in response.
This week, a Pennsylvania judge said an order that requires masks inside K-12 schools and child care facilities must expire Dec. 4.
The Associated Press reported that the ruling by Commonwealth Court Judge Christine Fizzano Cannon came a week after her court ruled 4-1 to threw out the statewide mask mandate, and that the ruling lifts the automatic suspension of that decision granted when the Wolf administration appealed to the state Supreme Court.
Wolf previously announced he would allow local school districts to make their own masking decisions starting Jan. 17.
In other business, the school board approved:
- Duquesne University speech, language and hearing clinic services agreement and fee schedule for the 2021-22 school year;
- Annual Title I federal programs teacher equity plan for the 2021-22 school year;
- The district’s Future Ready comprehensive plan through June 30, 2024;
- To authorize the county to mail 2022 homestead/farmstead applications on behalf of the district at a projected cost of 70 cents per application mailed;
- Gifts, grants and donations, including: $59,999 and $30,000 for Pennsylvania Department of Education Safe Schools SRO grants, and $400 from the Okonak family to the boys basketball program in memory of Donald E. Mueseler;
- Right of way and easement agreement between the Unity Township Municipal Authority (UTMA) and the district, on terms and conditions approved by the solicitor, for improvements made to sanitary sewer facilities;
- To retain SHP for facilities master planning and visioning services;
- Listing of 2021-22 school clubs, officers and sponsors;
- Bids for spring sports equipment;
- Resignations of Marcie Baker as a custodian, effective Nov. 12; Rita Benson as a person care assistant, effective Aug. 4 (changed to retirement); Ryan Dillon as a custodian, effective Nov. 19; Mark Schrecengost as a seventh-grade assistant boys basketball coach, effective Oct. 15, and Zachery Sheridan as a junior high wrestling coach, effective Nov. 10;
- Sarah Fuller, Michelle Kendrick, Collette Silvis, Kelsie Hendrix and Angela DeGram as substitute teachers;
- Hire of support personnel, including Chelsea Mastowski as a confidential secretary (accounts payable/receivable), at a rate of $16 per hour, retroactive to Nov. 8; Angela DeGram as a classroom assistant at a rate of $13 per hour, retroactive to Nov. 15; Nicole Lakin as a personal care assistant at a rate of $11 per hour, effective Nov. 17, and Daniel Woods, Kristine Keslar and Richard Hillwig as custodians at rates of $13.55 per hour, each retroactive to Nov. 15;
- Winter sports coaches and salaries for the 2021-22 school year.