A Latin instructor whose position had been proposed for termination by the Calallen Independent School District was rehired Monday after parents and students voiced their support for her to the district's Board of Trustees.
Susan Woodberry had her contract for the 2009-10 school year proposed for non-renewal during a school board meeting in March, but would have been allowed to finish out the current school cycle. The move was made as part of a cost-cutting measure by the district, due to a consistent decline in enrollment for the program, board president Butch Roecker said on Monday.
"This was never anything against (Woodberry) personally," Roecker said. "It was strictly a decision about the curriculum (and enrollment), and that's how we approached it."
Superintendent Arturo Almendarez said Tuesday he had been recommending doing away with the Latin program to save the district about $50,000. Students currently in the Latin program would have been reassigned to completing the course using Rosetta Stone language software, he added.
Several former and current students, as well as their parents, of Woodberry's Latin course appeared before the school board to voice their opposition to the trustees' decision.
"(Woodberry) is one of those teachers that (students) understand that what you see is what you get," said Calallen resident David Curtis, who has a daughter taking the Latin course for her junior year. "She's very straight-forward, she does very well with her students and they have gotten a lot out of her classes."
Jacob Collier, a student at Calallen High School, said he is not enrolled in the Latin program, but has taken other foreign language classes, such as French and Spanish.
"I believe that getting rid of Latin is the wrong idea," Collier said.
After going through the regular agenda, the school board entered into executive session for over an hour before going back into open session and unanimously voting to renew Woodberry's contract for the 2009-10 school year.
After the vote, Woodberry sat at a table apparently confused by the board's vote before an audience member leaned in to tell her she was going to keep her job. At that, Woodberry became ecstatic, smiling and pumping her fists in the air.
"Thank you, thank you," she said before burying her face in her hands.
After the meeting, Woodberry became emotional as she hugged supporters who had spoken on her behalf. She added it was touching to have the backing of not only her students, but their parents as well.
"I think it was a wonderful thing that the parents and students stood before the board and said what they've gotten out of Latin and its relevance to them," Woodberry said. "It was nice."
Almendarez said he felt the speeches by the students and their parents may have been a factor in the board's decision.
"I believe that it did (play a role). I believe the parents and the student showed the community was in favor of retaining the Latin program," he said. "We're the only high school, to my knowledge, within 100 miles that offers Latin, and they wanted to keep the program."
While Almendarez said he would support the board's decision, he emphasized that the proposal he made to not renew Woodberry's contract was strictly to help the district cut costs.
"It's a decision that was made by the board and we will abide by that," Almendarez said. "I have mixed emotions about it because I was promoting it as a cost-cutting measure, but it's gratifying to see parents and students supporting a program."
Also at Monday's meeting:
Trustees awarded a $259,111 contract to Teni-Trak for the renovation of the Calallen Middle School track. The bid included a resurfacing of the track, which will be a cinder red color, rather than the black topping it has had in the past. Board members also approved the $139,226 purchase of used synthetic turf from the Alamodome in San Antonio. The turf will be used for the district's proposed indoor activity and aquatic center, which is still in the design phase.