A variety of foreign language courses need to be available for today's students, several Bexley school board members said at the panel's May 19 meeting.

A variety of foreign language courses need to be available for today's students, several Bexley school board members said at the panel's May 19 meeting.

Because of that, the board requested the formation of a group of administrators, teachers and residents to look for ways to expand foreign language programs offered to Bexley students.

The board was responding to a report by curriculum director Anne Hyland, who recommended strengthening the district's current programs in Spanish, French and Latin.

The goal is for students to attain a high level of fluency. Other recommendations included using technology programs to gain that fluency and to add other languages.

Hyland said the report was developed from working with district teachers.

"It's not simply preferable, but essential that we offer opportunities in languages besides Spanish, French and Latin," said Andrew Sutter, board vice president.

Foreign language courses should reflect what's needed for students to function in today's global market and not be based on what traditionally has been offered, Sutter said.

"We're not going to be meeting our children's needs in terms of their being able to fit in the global economy by limiting ourselves to three languages," he said.

Sutter said he could understand offering Spanish, but questioned whether French and Latin were practical today.

"In a practical sense French is having less and less an impact," Sutter said. "And I don't know anyone who speaks Latin -- it's a dead language."

Superintendent Michael Johnson said the board could declare Latin "invalid and re-staff," using the language teaching position for a different language.

"You have the authority to declare that it is no longer a part of your program and your staff," Johnson said, adding that Bexley has traditionally offered Latin and removing it might be divisive.

Board member Craig Halliday said he didn't think the community was attached to the tradition of teaching Latin.

Hyland said she agreed that offering more languages would benefit students, but providing the instruction and assessment is costly on the administrative end. Having looked at some foreign language software, she said she was not overly impressed with the programs, but would continue to look at what is available.

Halliday said the district might be able to collaborate with Columbus School for Girls, St. Charles and Capital University.

Johnson said language courses that students take outside the district, such as during the summer at Ohio State University, could be included in high school transcripts as electives.

The school board asked Johnson last summer to make the review of the district's foreign language courses a goal for the administration.

"We will not have succeeded our mission to deliver languages to our children if we aren't taking a practical look at what's going on in the world," Sutter said at the May 19 board meeting.