Hilliard City Schools officials are considering changes to the district's German-language program but a group of mostly faculty members from the Ohio State University addressed the school board April 28 in their belief that the district intends to eliminate the program.
The group, which included a Hilliard parent and her daughter, displayed a German flag and carried poster boards bearing the German language.
The group members said they heard that Hilliard officials could eliminate the German-language courses.
Superintendent John Marschhausen said decreasing enrollment in German classes has required district officials to examine how the course is offered, but they do not plan to eliminate it.
"It won't go totally away, but we don't know what it will look like," Marschhausen said.
Marschhausen said enrollment is a factor district officials consider every year when determining what courses and curriculum to offer.
Potential changes could include offering German only at the high school level or a transition to a blend of classroom and virtual instruction. For example, the district could reduce the number of sections by allowing an instructor to lecture live in one classroom and video stream the presentation to other classes.
Board member Paul Lambert said the language is not among the top 10 spoken in the world and relocation of the district's resources sometimes is necessary.
"Sometimes changes must be made to programs ... and it must be done in a compassionate but unambiguous way," Lambert said.
Marschhausen said no changes would occur until at least the 2015-16 school year, and then only for those enrolling in entry-level classes.
"There will be no changes (to any courses) for the 2014-15 school year," Marschhausen said.
Students currently in the eighth grade and enrolled in German 1 would be able to continue taking traditional courses through German 5 during their senior year, Marschhausen said.
He said district officials chose to share the potential changes with Hilliard teachers to allow them to obtain any required certifications associated with changes in the curriculum and to keep them advised.
Among the three Ohio State faculty members who addressed the board April 28 was Barbara Heck, who said she helped establish the German-language program in Hilliard schools. She now is an adjunct faculty member in Ohio State's German-language department.
Heck said she taught German at Hilliard schools from 1990 to 1999. She said it was first offered to Hilliard students in 1990.
"It was a flourishing program I left in good hands," Heck said. "I learned last week it is being ended and that is a grave concern to all of us.
"It seems to be counterintuitive to eliminate German. It's a valuable language."
Carmen Taleghani-Nikazm, director of the undergraduate German language-program at Ohio State, said she was "appalled and shocked" the program would be considered for removal.
Nicole Moore, a 1995 graduate of Hilliard High School and German language instructor at Olentangy Liberty High School, said she began learning German in 1990 as an eighth-grade student and participated in Heck's class.
"It's shaped who I am," Moore said.
She said she traveled to Dresden, Germany, as a Hilliard student, and met and married her husband, who responded to her via Facebook regarding her student trip to Germany that had occurred 15 years earlier.
"I know I'm an extreme example ... but I see it in my students every day, how they have a broader perspective of the world (through learning German)," Moore said.
Phil Berthel, of Dublin, whose children attend Hilliard schools, told board members the language was necessary to effectively compete in the global business world.
Ellie Timmons, a sophomore at Bradley High School, was among those gathered at the back of the gymnasium at Scioto Darby Elementary School where board members met.
Timmons said she is collecting signatures online and on paper appealing to the district to leave the program intact.