Rancho Santa Fe School District to survey parents on Spanish program

The Rancho Santa Fe School District board approved sending a foreign language survey out to parents, after several requests that the district find a way to work Spanish back into the K-5 curriculum.

At its March 5 meeting, the board unanimously approved an estimate from Social Science Research Laboratory to conduct the survey, an amount not to exceed $6,000. The board expects to make a decision on the Spanish program by June.

Superintendent Lindy Delaney wanted to make sure that the survey first educates parents on where the district is in terms of curriculum minutes in a day and what the effects would be in adding Spanish.

“There’s going to be some trade-offs, because there’s only so many minutes in a day and only so much money,” Delaney said.

To help craft the survey, Delaney said she would like to get a small committee together, including a couple of parents.

Delaney said she would also like to do a survey with the K-5 staff as well as the parents, to make sure teachers’ voices are also heard on what might not be taught if Spanish is added. The survey would include five options for a Spanish program.

Trustee Richard Burdge said that he agreed with Delaney’s point on parent education. He said that the survey questions needed to be well prepared, including what will have to be taken away to make room for the program and what the costs will be.

“It’s not like we’re swimming in money,” Burdge said, wondering whether adding Spanish will mean the amount asked per parent from the Rancho Santa Fe Education Foundation will need to increase to help supplement the program.

Burdge said that they need to be mindful of costs, as the district is budgeting for zero property tax increases. Delaney added that the district is also facing a $200,000 increase in their contribution to employees’ California State Teachers Retirement System benefits.

If the district opts for five-day-a-week Spanish, the cost is estimated at $250,000 and Delaney is not sure where the funding would come from.

“I don’t think we can go into reserves for foreign language,” Delaney said. “There needs to be a real funding mechanism for a long time if we’re going to do it. I’m committed to doing it right, not to doing it just for the sake of doing it.”

Delaney said she expects an informational letter will go out to parents on April 13, with the online survey to follow.