The Gates Chili School District is considering cutting the Italian and Latin language programs. Losing Italian in a town known for its Italian heritage is not sitting well with some.
Silvano Orsi, the president of The Little Italy Association, said he’s working to keep the Italian program in the schools.
“This is a population that is around 35 percent Italian-American, who are either first or second generation,” said Orsi.
Right now, the board of education is considering phasing out both the Italian and Latin language programs. The process would start next school year.
In a statement, the school district said it needs to consider staffing and the sustainability of programs as it builds its budget.
The Little Italy Association is offering some financial help.
Orsi is working with the Consulate General of Italy to secure $13,000 toward the Italian language program.
"What we want to do is create a positive dialogue with the school district and offer some financial support,” said Orsi.
The news has Gates Chili parent Romeo Delucia hopeful that his daughters will be able to learn more about their Italian heritage.
“My kids have shown interest and they want to learn it,” said Delucia. “They've expressed interest in speaking Italian. They know my background and my father is from Italy. They would like to speak the language and wonder why I don’t speak it.”
The school district is considering just offering Latin as a high school elective, but Delucia said that’s not enough.
“You have 9,000 Italians living in the Gates community that want this to continue on,” Delucia said. “They're taxpayers and they showed interest."
The Little Italy Association presented its financial proposal at Tuesday’s school board meeting. If the school district agrees to accepting the money, it would have to submit a financial plan on how that money would be used.