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Social Worker, Spanish Look More Likely for Darien

DARIEN, Conn. – Darien may be getting closer to offering foreign language instruction and having a social worker in its elementary schools. The question of whether rugby will become a varsity sport or remain a club is still up in the air.

The Darien Board of Education met Thursday to discuss possible cuts to the budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year . Members addressed the major aspects of the budget, though no final decision has been made on anything yet.

Several members are convinced that now is the time to add a long-awaited foreign language program to the elementary schools. Board member Heather Shea said there is no good time to add five additional teachers to the staff, but she felt it was the right program for the district now.

Morgan Whittier proposed phasing in the foreign language program rather than having all grades start it at once. He said this would help the district monitor the success of the program and it would cost less.

Amy Bell initially voted against the program and said she did not want to fund it. George Reilly said he likes the program but said the board may need to address more pressing financial concerns such as special education.

Several board members said a social worker is necessary to deal with the increasing number of students in crisis. Some doubted this was an issue for the schools to address, but others pointed out that crisis situations in students’ home lives directly impact their school work. A social worker for all five elementary schools would be able to focus on these problems and find help for students.

Board members were pleased with the presentation by rugby players at a public hearing Tuesday . Despite seeing the merits of the program, some said it should stay a club sport for at least another year before bumping it up to varsity status. If rugby remained a club sport, additional funding due to its popularity was proposed.

The board will make its final decisions on the budget Tuesday night.

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