While neighboring districts struggle to add classes during a fiscal crisis, one San Ramon school is adding to an already diverse roster of foreign language classes.
If all goes according to plan, Dougherty Valley High School students will have the option to take two levels of Korean for their world language requirement, said Rob Stockberger, director of secondary education for the San Ramon Valley Unified School District (SRVUSD). Almost 57 percent of the school's students are Asian, and as that population in the Dougherty Valley has grown, Stockberger said interests have changed.
"Over time world language options have changed a little bit – once upon a time in this district, the options were just around Spanish, French and German, but interest has changed a bit," he said.
SRVUSD already offers Chinese and Japanese courses at various schools, the addition of a Korean program would be just one of 60 in the state. While there are approximately 50 schools in Southern California that teach Korean as a world language, Stockberger said the South Korean government has an interest in seeing the language more widely available.
Sinok Kim, director of the Korean consulate's education department in San Francisco, told reporters at New American Media that Korea has offered a setup grant of $25,000 to $30,000 to schools willing to host a Korean-language program, depending on class size. Dougherty Valley High would have to commit to the program for two years and would receive a maintenance grant of $6,000 the following year.
"The intention is to not create a fiscal challenge or burden at this time for the district. We're not in the position to add a program -- this is not an immersion program. This would look pretty much directly parallel to if you went to high school common course catalog for Chinese and Spanish," Stockberger said.
According to an article in Korea Times, the Korean Education Center in San Francisco has consulted with several school districts since February about adding Korean language courses in high schools and has worked with parents to launch a committee that would drum up student interest.
Stockberger said the district still needs to contract a qualified teacher to run the classes and is working on letters of commitment from 40 or 50 Dougherty Valley students.