The days are numbered for the Mandarin Chinese language program at Genoa schools.
The board of education has approved a $5,000 salary for Gue Yu to teach the Chinese 2 class at the high school beginning this fall, according to June 12 board meeting minutes.
“We are phasing the program out,” said superintendent Dennis Mock. “This last year is for the students who took Chinese 1 to complete their Chinese 2 course.”
High school principal Kevin Katafias was not available to comment on the number of students enrolled in the final year of the program.
The Chinese language program got under way five years ago when Genoa schools forged a relationship with the University of Toledo. The program was borne out of a shift in the global economy that has demanded more concentration on learning Asian languages, specifically of Chinese origin. It was, as Mock said, in the days of conception something necessary to keep Genoa students competitive in the workplace.
In the early days, Genoa and about 20 districts across the state operated their program through a series called the Chinese Teacher Guest Program.
The Chinese-government sponsored program offers American school students a native Chinese teacher for three years at no cost. Local schools provide only room and board as well as transportation. The intention was to allow districts to get programs up and running while allowing them time to find full-time staff.
The state has also made a concerted effort to push along these foreign language studies. In 2006, the Ohio Department of Education received $470,000 over three years to establish pilot programs for Mandarin instruction among students in kindergarten through fourth grade. One year after its inception, the number of Ohio school children studying Chinese more than tripled, jumping from 777 to 2,287, according to state officials.
Genoa’s early program included Chinese language classes for children elementary level through high school.
But needs have trumped wants in these days of school money troubles.
Despite passing a bond issue which allowed the school district to undertake much needed building renovations and construction, the system has followed the way of many Ohio schools caught in budget crunches deepened by the 2008 recession, a slew of foreclosures and job losses.
Over the last year, Genoa has slashed more than one million dollars from its budget, including teachers, a custodians and an administrator.
Some programs have also fallen to the wayside, Mock said. The Chinese program is one of them.
“We just can’t maintain the program any longer,” Mock said.
The $5,000 sum will cover the teaching costs for a full year contract. Yu is a Toledo resident, Mock said.