Saturday, September 1, 2012

No more Latin at PCSD

Latin is suddenly no longer offered at the PCSD due to the resignation of the Latin teacher whose position was cut from full-time to half-time based on the recommendation of the superintendent and the support of the Board. This has left students in a lurch, especially those who were headed into Latin III, as they attempt to fulfill their foreign language requirement. So here, at the eleventh hour, Latin III students will have to take their Latin course at SUNY Potsdam. The students impacted by this sudden change will have to miss other classes at the HS since it is impossible to get students to the college campus and back in time to avoid impacting students' class schedules. Were all students notified at the same time of this change so they could begin college Latin last week? A parent complained that only a Board member's child knew to attend the Latin course at SUNY Potsdam last week.

It was very predictable that once long-time Board member Mary Ashley Carroll, a staunch advocate for Latin, was no longer on the BOE that there would be a large void in support of this important and popular program (29 students were signed up for Latin I for this school year). Exiting Latin teacher, Lynette Maxson, pleaded with the BOE and superintendent last spring to support Latin but her comments fell on deaf ears. Ms. Maxson, according to The Watertown Times, had stated that statistics showed that Latin students do better in math, science, English, and on average score better on the SAT's than students taking other foreign languages.

There were other places to cut the budget in order to save the Latin teacher position and, thus, the program. The athletic director (AD) half-time position could have been offered to a current teacher for a stipend and the money saved could have been used to retain the full-time Latin positon. Now the school district not only does not have a Latin teacher, it no longer has a Latin program.

When making such budgetary decisions, the superintendent and the BOE show their educational priorities. PCS students could have had both a Latin program and a teacher handling the AD job. Instead, a valuable educational program is gone and the decision-making of the superintendent and the members of the BOE are central to this predictable outcome. Nobody should believe for a minute that the Latin job cut (from full-time to part-time) had to occur.

When the full-time administrative position of Dean/AD was cut to half-time AD for this school year, this employee was protected by being handed an elementary physical education teacher job (half-time) in order to provide the employee with full-time employment. The district did not lose that employee. Ms. Maxson was not as lucky.

Many thanks to Linda Baisley, David O'Neil and Lynette Maxson for their work as PCSD Latin teachers. The absence of Latin as a foreign language offering is a great loss for students.


  1. I am shocked that, in the blink of an eye, the Superintendent would recommend and the Board of Education would accept the dismantling of an entire program which has contributed to the success of thousands of Potsdam Central students over the past decades. AND, to do it in the summer, when so many people are gone or not yet thinking about being back at school is unconscionable. Can you imagine this happening to the football program? Clearly, it was decided by management that the program had to go long before the end of the budget season. To reduce a teacher to half time when there is a shortage of Latin teachers across the nation guaranteed that Ms. Maxson would seek a fulltime position elsewhere and be snatched up immediately. Don't even try to offer any other explanations!

  2. My son was very angry that the Latin program was cancelled. He was about to enter his second year of Latin. It's a shame that this cancellation had to happen over the summer, just before the start of school.
    How could my son register for a college Latin class after it already started? And how could he attend that class at the same time his high school classes were in session?

    Susan Skufca