AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s back to school for many Central Texas students and this year the Austin Independent School District is offering new foreign language classes.
Students who attend Summit Elementary and take part in their dual language in Vietnamese will now be able to continue that program when they enter Murchison Middle School. AISD is also expanding its offering of Korean at Travis High School to include an upper-level course. Arabic will also be offered at Burnet Middle School, Austin and International High Schools.
District officials say the decision to offer these languages and the schools chosen to teach them were based on family and student feedback.
“Our city is becoming much more diverse, a lot of families are moving in from all over the world, and this will provide them the opportunities to continue to learn their language and also blend in with our students here getting to learn a new language,” said Edmund Oropez, Chief Officer for Teaching and Learning.
AISD received a $100,000 grant to launch the Arabic language program which they hope to expand to other schools next year.
All schools will see a shift when it comes to the school day. State lawmakers decided districts need to count the school day in minutes. That means schools must now account for 75,600 minutes. Elementary schools will have 12 extra minutes to their day ending now at 2:57 p.m. instead of 2:45, middle school releases at 3:40 and high school at 4:30, which means school buses could be on the road during rush hour.
The changes in the bell schedule were made because the district had to account for two weather makeup days and three staff development days.
District officials say they are looking into what to do with the extra time at the elementary school level.
“We are really studying hard about unrestrictive recess everyday, we think this will actually assist us and be able to do that and accommodate our schedule but it’s really up to each individual school campus of how they are going to use those additional 12 minutes,” said Oropez.
School will still start at the same time as last year.