Naperville 203 school board votes to eliminate Latin
Despite pleas from students and parents, the Naperville Unit District 203 school board voted at Monday's meeting to eliminate Latin 1 as a course offering starting next school year.
The decision to phase out Latin came after a recommendation from district administrators based on an audit showing dwindling enrollment numbers at Naperville Central and Naperville North high schools.
Administrators also pointed to research indicating Latin doesn't benefit students as much as other second languages after they graduate high school.
Several community members spoke at the last two board meetings in support of keeping Latin at the district's two high schools. On Monday, board members said they'd received dozens of emails about the sense of community and connection felt among the Latin students.
Still, Charles Cush was the only board member to vote against the recommendation in a 6-1 vote.
In an accompanying unanimous vote, the school board approved a recommendation to add Algebra 2: Modeling and Problem Solving and a Career Internship course as high school offerings starting next school year.
According to district officials, no students are enrolled in Latin 1 this year at Naperville North. Latin 3 and 4 had to be combined into one class at both high schools because of small enrollment numbers: 28 students at Naperville Central and 13 at Naperville North.
"This has been an ongoing trend that we have seen over time, not just in recent years," Superintendent Dan Bridges said.
The phasing out of Latin will occur over the next few years. Every high school student currently enrolled in Latin 1 will be able to finish the sequence through Latin 2, 3 and 4.
Starting next school year, high school students will have a choice of languages among American Sign Language, Chinese-Mandarin, French, German and Spanish.
"I've been really torn on this one since our last meeting," said Cush, who quoted from an email he received from a student about the passion they felt for Latin.
"I don't question the rationality of the recommendation you're bringing forward," Cush said. "But what really gets me on this one is some of the things that aren't necessarily around the data."