The Mandarin Chinese program that has brought international attention to Bibb County schools may be in jeopardy as the school system descends into budget crisis.
Skyrocketing employee health and retirement costs paired with dwindling state funds have dug an almost $19 million hole in the budget. The cost of providing universal Chinese language classes is just $400,000, but administrators say Mandarin may need to be on the chopping block.
The Mandarin program has brought Bibb schools widespread criticism and acclaim, and it will be hard for some to let it go after just one year, said school board member Jason Downey.
"Support for it has grown, I think it will end though with this new budget, "Downey said. "The sentiment that I’m getting from my constituents is 'how can we continue with Mandarin Chinese yet furlough teachers?'"
The cost of the Mandarin program is about two thirds of what the district would save by furloughing all employees for one day, Downey said.