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Parents against foreign language cuts organize, ask to meet with superintendent

About 20 parents have organized into a group they are calling SPLASH to prevent the reduction of world language classes offered in Shelby County’s elementary and middle schools.

SPLASH  is an acronym for Shelby Parents for Languages Across School Houses.

SCS’s world language program is one of the programs  facing cuts in its 2014-15 budget.  The overall budget will be cut 19 percent and reduced from $1.2 billion to $961 million.  Hopson has said reducing the number of classes will save the district $1.8 million.  The cuts will also mean a reduction in 23 teacher positions.

The reduction is a result of the creation of six municipal school districts in the suburban areas of Shelby County and the anticipated loss of student enrollment.  The new budget includes several other staff and program cuts.

Efforts to prevent the cuts to the program began with teachers, parents and students addressing school leaders during community budget forums in March.  An online petition was created with more than 1,200 signatures to prevent the cuts.  On April 11, SCS students delivered hundreds of letters to Hopson’s office to request that the world language program offerings remain the same.

“We’ve been trying to meet with Superintendent (Dorsey) Hopson to talk to him about our concerns,” said Tracy O’Connor, whose son is a student at Snowden School, an optional school that serves first through eighth graders.O’Connor’s son is learning Russian and she hopes he will also learn Spanish. “I have three other children that I hoped would be able to learn a new language,” O’Connor said.  “Losing the classes would be a big blow to us.” O’Connor said SPLASH is building its online outreach through a website, Facebook and Twitter account.