The Oak Grove School District is planning for the worst and hoping for the best in tough financial times.

The Oak Grove School District is planning for the worst and hoping for the best in tough financial times.

One possible causality – the French program at Oak Grove High School and Oak Grove Middle School.

“Nothing has been decided yet,” said Superintendent James Haley. “We don’t want to cut any position or program, but the only way to save significant amounts of money is through personnel.”

The Oak Grove School District stands to lose at least $220,000 in assessed valuation this year. That number does not include any decreases in personal property revenue or funds that could be cut as a result of the state of Missouri’s education budget that has yet to be approved by the Missouri Legislature.

Haley said in preparation, the district is looking at all options to cut expenditures for the 2009-10 school year. One of those options is to “temporarily eliminate” positions that will be left open due to retirement or attrition.

“The French instructor (Katherine Allen) is one of those that have resigned (for the coming year), so we will have a vacancy,” he said. “We are considering not filling that position, but are holding off any decisions until we see what happens in regards to our funding.”

The French program started two years ago, giving students at Oak Grove High School the option of taking either French or Spanish. There are currently more than 100 students in the French program between the high school and Oak Grove Middle School. Many colleges and universities recommend and some require at least two years of the same foreign language. Allen declined to comment.

“This is something that I personally pursued as an option for high school kids, so that they could have a choice between two foreign languages (the other being Spanish),” Haley said. “I would like to see it (French) stay in place.”

Other areas where Oak Grove is looking to make cuts are in supplies, equipment, materials, travel and professional development activities. Other programs at the high school appear to be safe, although Haley said no decisions have been made at this time. The Oak Grove Board of Education must approve the preliminary budget prior to June 30.

“What we are trying to do is not to make cuts to any core classes at the high school or middle school and attempting to stay away from high class sizes at the elementary level,” Haley said.

“Is eliminating the French program a possibility? Sure. But there have been no recommendations made and nothing has been decided. We have to wait until the legislature approves its budget.”