Some Hanover High School students are afraid they will have to say, "au revoir" to their favorite foreign-language class next year and they've taken to the Internet to express their disappointment.
The French enthusiasts have created a Facebook page, the twitter hashtag #savefrenchclass and an online petition with more than 120 signatures in an effort to show school officials their dedication to the language.
- "I love french class!" Brianna Blair wrote on the petition. "I want to learn as much French as I can but I can't do that if they cut Madame's french classes."
Yet, administrators say the students' reactions are premature because there has not been a formal motion, suggestion or proposal to cut French from the curriculum for 2013-14.
"The rumor is many miles ahead of the discussion," said board member Scott Roland.
- School officials said they are looking for ways to cut costs next year and French is one of the many programs and services that might be presented to the board for discussion.
But students aren't taking their chances.
- Senior Clay Reichart created the online petition on change.org after hearing that the language was being phased out and students could no longer enroll in the level-one class. The 17-year-old student, who studies Spanish, said limiting high schoolers' world language options is ridiculous.
- Clay said the French teacher, Paula Frank, had informed the French students of the situation. Frank could not be reached for comment.
Sophomore Garrett Reichart, Clay's brother, addressed the school board Monday night, explaining how removing French as a foreign-language option would hurt students in both the long and short term.
Garrett, who is taking Spanish as a foreign language, said top-tier colleges and universities expect prospective students to have taken several years of a language other than English. By removing French classes, students who do not prefer or excel in Spanish would be at a disadvantage.
- Garrett also quoted a statement made in 2010 by Arne Duncan, U.S. secretary of education: "To prosper economically and to improve relations with other countries, Americans need to read, speak and understand other languages."
Garrett pointed out that under Pennsylvania law, schools must offer two foreign language options to students.
However, Superintendent Al Moyer said the law states that only one has to be offered in a four-year sequence. If the district continued to offer a full range of Spanish classes and at least one class of another foreign language, it would not be violating Pennsylvania law, Moyer said.
Still, it's not only students who are upset with the idea of cutting French classes.
Abby Reichart, the mother of the boys behind the petition, said she couldn't understand why the French teacher would tell students the school would not be offering level-one classes next year if it were not true.
"They tend to not tell the whole truth," Reichart said of the school board, citing last year's funding issues for the music and theater department as evidence.
Moyer said the district has been as transparent as possible and added he doesn't think it would be responsible to share an idea publicly when it might not turn into a serious proposal.
However, Moyer said district officials had, as a courtesy, told Frank there was a possibility of cuts to the French department.
"For a terrific employee like that," he said of Frank, who has been with the district for 28 years, "we thought it was appropriate to give her a heads-up."
Board members will continue to look for areas to cut costs before approving a preliminary budget at the end of May. After that, board members have another month to make changes before a final budget is approved.
"Unfortunately, we're going to be making some difficult decisions over the next few months," Moyer said.