Rocky Fork Enterprise

G-J loses federal grant for Chinese program

Curriculum coordinator eyes 'creative programming' to continue offering

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools officials hope to continue offering Chinese despite the loss of $762,000 from a federal grant.

Hank Langhals, coordinator of pupil services/curriculum, said the district is losing three years of a five-year Foreign Language Assistance Program grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The purpose of the grant was to sustain and further develop the Chinese language program in Gahanna schools.

"All FLAP funding was eliminated last winter, so we were only funded for two years," he said.

Gahanna-Jefferson was one of 20 school districts nationwide and one of two in Ohio to receive the summer 2010 grant totaling a little more than $1.2 million.

"We would have received approximately a total of $762,000 for this and the next two years," Langhals said. "Our hope is to continue with as much of the current programming that we can. We will need to make some staffing adjustments and be creative with programming. I will be meeting with the superintendent in the near future to discuss this."

The school board approved a memorandum of understanding Nov. 8 with the iBridging International Foundation to establish a partnership to promote international studies and exchange programs.

"The company represents schools and parents in China and looks at methods of cooperation," Langhals said. "It can be joint projects or an exchange of students. It's a five-year MOU (memorandum of understanding). We don't perceive any cost to work with this company."

The MOU states the foundation has established a broad network of collaborating schools in China and would act as the catalyst to facilitating the G-J schools for developing and implementing a range of vibrant international education programs.

Collaborations and projects under the agreement could include exchanges of students and faculty members, degree and nondegree international education experiences, project-based learning camps, language learning programs and international student clubs and learning groups, among others.

Langhals said iBridging officials would like to send students to Lincoln High School.

"They're willing to pay to do that," he said. "They would pay our tuition rate, currently $47 per day to study here. We're talking eight to 12 students who could come here to study. They would be high-achieving students. That's just a small part of the project."

Unrelated to the iBridging foundation, Gahanna Lincoln High School senior Andrew Aldis and 2012 Lincoln graduate Ray Labrador are taking classes at Gahanna's sister school -- the No. 2 Affiliated Middle School of Yunnan Normal University -- in Kunming, China. Both have completed four years of Chinese through the G-J schools.

Langhals said the district has been involved in sending students abroad through foreign-exchange agencies, but this marked the first time the school district has sponsored the students and worked school to school.

He said Gahanna started its Chinese language program six years ago with Chinese I at the high school.

Currently, he said, 162 high school students are taking Chinese, levels 1 through 5.

For the first time, the high school is offering Advanced Placement Chinese, or Chinese 5.

An additional 41 students in eighth grade are taking Chinese, with one section being offered at each middle school.

Last year, 206 students were in the after-school program at the elementary levels, where the course is being offered for the fifth year.

 

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