East Aurora elementary schools add Spanish, more PE
Students in East Aurora District 131 elementary schools will have a new class in the fall: Spanish/world language.
The school board voted 6-0 Monday to add the class, which will be taught three times a week, for 30 minutes per session.
Students will also spend more time exercising, as the board increased gym class to three 30-minute sessions a week, up from two. The state has mandated districts offer gym three days a week.
Music education was spared, at least for the 2019-20 school year. The board's curriculum committee had considered cutting that in half, to just one 30-minute session a week.
Music, physical education and the Spanish/world language classes are called "specials" topics.
No changes were made for other specials. Art remains a once-a-week, 60-minute class, and technology a once-a-week 30-minute class.
Eliseo Martinez, a music educator at Bardwell Elementary, told the board that music is important to students. He cited his experience as an East Aurora student, particularly in high school. "Yes, I also took advanced courses in history, language arts, humanities and calculus, but those aren't necessarily the classes that motivated me to come to school every day," he said.
He said he struggled belong as a poor, third-generation Latino who didn't speak Spanish, was bullied and was figuring out how to deal with being gay, he said.
"The place that I felt most at home was in the fine arts wing, and particularly in my music classes. ... It was those experiences that allowed me to feel a sense of self and prepared me to receive scholarships," he said.
Board member Kenneth Darby described himself as a "big advocate" for music instruction. He cited the addition of a wing for music and fine arts instruction at East Aurora High in 2018.
"Music does a lot for kids, so it is a big benefit for their well-being. I will always be an advocate for music in our district and how it has grown," he said.