The New Albany-Plain Local School District will offer Mandarin Chinese courses for grades seven to 10 in the 2012-13 school year.

The New Albany-Plain Local School District will offer Mandarin Chinese courses for grades seven to 10 in the 2012-13 school year.

"We will have an opportunity for kids to go as far as junior and senior years, when they can take (Chinese) classes at (The Ohio State University)," said Marilyn Troyer, the district's chief of innovation, improvement and human capital.

Troyer said the district will offer two levels: Mandarin Chinese 1 and 1A. She said enough seventh- and eighth-graders have signed up for the classes.

Superintendent April Domine could not say how the classes will be organized, but she said middle and high school students could study together.

"OSU thinks a multi-age model is highly effective, and seventh-graders assimilate faster in that environment," Domine said.

Domine said the district will pay for the program through staff attrition, meaning the district may not replace a staff member who retires or leaves the district.

She said the district will add one part-time teacher for the courses. The cost of a part-time teacher typically is $38,000 for salary and benefits.

"If the program allows for one full-time teacher, we will be able to provide after-school programming for elementary exposure," Domine said.

Troyer said the district also could offer weekend classes if it can afford a full-time teacher.

Troyer said the district is working with Ohio State to organize the program, find qualified teachers and establish a partner school in Harbin, China.

"OSU has a flagship program that is federally funded and nationally recognized," Troyer said.

Domine said Ohio State has connected the district with Chinese teachers who are licensed to teach in Ohio. New Albany may also take advantage of an Ohio Department of Education program that brings in unlicensed Chinese teachers who want to work as aides in the classroom.

"We do not have to pay them (the aides), but we do provide housing for them," Domine said. "It would be a way to get more native Chinese speakers here for our students to interact with."

The partner school also could provide ways for the district to exchange teachers and students. Troyer said New Albany has drafted a letter to a school in Harbin, requesting a partnership.

Troyer presented the information to the New Albany-Plain Local school board on April 9. The board already approved Mandarin Chinese classes, if funding could be identified.