TCAPS officials recommend cutting most elementary Spanish classes

Mar 14, 2017

TCAPS Superintendent Paul Soma listens during a school board meeting Monday, March 13, 2017.
Credit David Cassleman

Spanish class would be all but eliminated from Traverse City elementary schools under a budget recommendation made by the district superintendent’s office Monday night.

Officials with Traverse City Area Public Schools told the school board that the move would save the district $400,000. They say the district needs to trim expenses to avoid a financial takeover by the state.

The superintendent also recommended sunsetting the district’s International Baccalaureate program at the middle school level. 

More than a dozen people spoke against the move, including Traverse City resident Matt Soltysiak. He is also a Spanish teacher at Glen Lake High School. 

Traverse City resident Matt Soltysiak speaks during a TCAPS board meeting on March 13, 2017.
Credit David Cassleman

“It’s my belief that the district seems to be operating in a reactionary, survival mode and not forward thinking,” Soltysiak said. “And that troubles me. With the size of this school district, we should be the leaders in the area.”

Under the plan, foreign language instruction at Traverse Heights Elementary School and the Montessori program at Glen Loomis would survive the cuts. But Spanish class would be eliminated at the other elementary schools. 

Younger elementary students at those schools would instead attend extra art or physical education classes. Older students would get more instruction in core subjects to replace world language.  

“You guys want to take world language and take it from two days a week to zero days a week. You’re going the wrong direction,” Matt Soltysiak told the school board. “The research showed when you wanted to implement [foreign language], it should have been four days. Why didn’t you follow the research in the beginning? And if you’re not going to, don’t just throw it in the trash heap like an old appliance. Fix it and make it right.”

Soltysiak is deciding where he will send his twin 3-year-old girls to school next year. He says learning a foreign language is an educational priority for his daughters. 

The school board is expected to vote on the plan next Monday.