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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Students speak up for keeping Latin

HOLLIS – Latin may be a dying language, but it’s alive and well in the hearts of students at Hollis/Brookline High School.

For more than four hours at the Cooperative School District Budget Committee’s budget public hearing Tuesday, the better part of the discussion was generated by high school students who argued for keeping Latin among high school courses, even if it means asking their parents to pay more in taxes, roughly $100 a family in the School District, according to one official’s calculation.

The students said Latin would give them an advantage in college, preparing them for careers in science and technology. They also said the program is a valuable part of the study of humanities, including history.

“The underlying message is they’d rather keep the $65,000 in the budget for the Latin teacher, reinstate the Latin teacher and reduce another area,” said School Board Chairman Janice Tremblay on Wednesday morning.

Tremblay said Latin was cut from the budget because it has the lowest enrollment of the three foreign language programs at 109 students. The district also offers Spanish and French.

The Budget Committee recommended a fiscal year 2012 budget of $18.8 million to operate the high school and middle school and cover the costs of salaries and benefits for employees.

If voters pass the budget, officials said, taxes in Hollis will go up 7 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, and Brookline taxpayers will take a harder hit: an increase of 76 cents per $1,000 of assessed value because there are more students from Brookline than from Hollis attending the middle and high schools.

The School Board’s recommended budget is higher, totaling $19.2 million.

At the School District Meeting on March 16, voters will be asked to amend the Budget Committee’s budget to reflect the School Board’s spending plan. If the motion passes, the School Board’s budget is voted on. If it fails, voters decide whether to pass the Budget Committee’s budget.

After the public hearing, which ended about 10 minutes before midnight, the School Board convened briefly to wrap up the budget discussion. When the School Board meets Feb. 16, it plans to finalize its budget.

Hattie Bernstein can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 24 or hbernstein@cabinet.com.