Hamburg directors reorganize, discuss Mandarin Chinese program

At its reorganization meeting on Dec. 3 Hamburg Area school directors voted to maintain the status quo for 2014.

By a unanimous vote, Brooke Adams and Marianna Burns were elected to continue as president and vice-president, respectively, of the nine-member board.

The firm of Antanavage, Fabiarz & Antanavage was unanimously voted as solicitor with A. Joseph Antanavage as chief counsel at a cost of $5,500.

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Four school directors, who were re-elected in November, took the Oath of Office.

Duane Crider, Lolly Lesher, Andrew Raugh and Brian Riegel were elected to four-year terms.

“There’s no greater service than what you’re doing for your community,” Superintendent Steven Keifer said.

In other news, school directors continued to debate whether Mandarin Chinese should be added to the program of studies for the 2014-15 school year.

On Nov. 11, Dr. Elizabeth Lambi, director of curriculum and instruction, brought a proposal to school directors for consideration.

School directors wanted more discussion before voting on its inclusion in the program of studies.

The cost to the district would be $4,500 for up to 20 students, according to Dr. Lambi.

The language program would be run jointly by the Berks County Intermediate Unit (BCIU) and the Confucius Institute at the University of Pittsburgh.

The most cost effective option would be to use a distance learning approach where the class would be taught by a teacher through the use of equipment at the BCIU.

Dr. Lambi said that a large number of businesses in Pennsylvania are Chinese-owned and the Mid-Atlantic region is a hub for trade.

A student survey indicated that there was enough interest to support the class, according to Dr. Lambi.

Some school directors did not share Dr. Lambi’s vision.

“China is a communist country,” Andrew Raugh said. “I’d rather see our children learning about George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. I don’t want children growing up emulating China.”

School director Lolly Lesher said that she would like to see the school district focus on the basics and make current programs better.

“This sounds like the most controversial issue in the program of studies,” Superintendent Keifer said.

School directors are expected to vote on Dec. 16 for the 2014-15 program of studies.

The next meeting of school directors will be Dec. 16 at 6:30 p.m. in the James A. Gilmartin Community Room.

School director Brian Specht was absent.