H.C. school board debates live vs. virtual Spanish teacher

Published: Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at 03:41 PM.

BONIFAY — Holmes County school board members Tuesday stalled on filling a position that would give half its student body a chance at a popular state scholarship.

In the district, 248 students are expected to be taking a first or second year Spanish course in the coming school year. The base requirement to qualify for Florida’s Bright Futures scholarship, a lottery-funded scholarship which can pay for the entirety of a four-year university education, is two years of a high school foreign language course. School board members were split Tuesday 3-2 on hiring a teacher for 140 of Holmes County students.

While Holmes County School has one full-time Spanish teacher for its 120 students, Superintendent Eddie Dixon made the suggestion board members approve hiring a second for a salary of $40,000 to teach the remaining 128 students expected to take Spanish in the district. However, board member Shirley Owens moved that the board table the item to look at whether a computer program would be a better decision.

“This estimate was based on a $40,000 salary figure which could vary depending on the number of years they teach,” Owens said. “Then there’s health insurance that we absorb. I don’t think we should jump into it quickly.”

Spanish courses from Florida Virtual School cost $650 per student — coming out to $83,200, according to Dixon’s projections. A new teacher and use of Edgeunity, another education software, could come out to cost $66,300.

Board members Jason Motley and Sid Johnson, who held the dissenting votes, said even if the cost of a teacher increases the experience of having a live person to bounce questions or concepts off of has a value.

“I like the hands on experience of having the teacher present,” Johnson said.

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