In May the Riverside District 96 school board also unanimously approved a new fifth grade math program for advanced students, but took a pass on a implementing a world language program in kindergarten and first grade.
Unlike the current gifted math program, math students in the district’s gifted math program next year will have a separate class apart from their classmates. In June the board hired Amanda Johnson, a math teacher at Hauser, to teach the new gifted fifth-grade math program, which is expected to serve 31 students next year.
Johnson will apparently travel to all the district’s elementary schools to teach the advanced fifth graders, but exact details on how the new class will be run have yet to be worked out. There will only be two fifth-graders at Hollywood School, the smallest school in the district, in the class.
Board member David Kodama strongly advocated for the new advanced math program saying that the Quest math program, which pulled out gifted students one day a week for advanced math instruction, wasn’t enough.
“One day of [advanced] math just wasn’t cutting it, was never cutting it,” Kodama said at the May 21 school board meeting.
Kodama said the new program is needed to meet the needs of fifth-graders who are gifted in math.
“It meets an immediate deficiency in our curriculum,” Kodama said.
But the school board voted unanimously against a proposal to teach Spanish in the elementary schools next year.
A proposal for the so-called world language program, which has been the subject of a parent-teacher committee for two years, was to have begun this fall in kindergarten and first grade.
However, the school board decided to wait and have its new administrative team evaluate the idea and weigh in. School board members also wanted more analysis of the financial impact of the program.
Although he voted against implementing the world language program in the coming school year, school board member Art Perry said that he still supports the idea.
“I’m still hoping it’s going to happen, it’s just not going to happen this fall,” Perry said in a separate interview. “There were just too many open questions and concerns about finances and the curriculum.”
Some parents were disappointed by the decision.
“I just feel that every year that we delay introducing any foreign language to our kids puts them further behind in the ability to learn one,” said Amy Jacksic, a former co-president of the Central School PTO.