Oswego high schools moving ahead with plans to add sign language course

Oswego School District 308 is investigating acts of vandalism that occurred at Oswego East High School Wednesday night, including racial slurs written on the school grounds.

Oswego School District 308 continues to move ahead with plans to offer a sign language course for high school students.

After studying different resources to use for the program, the district has decided to go with a different resource than it was originally considering. The district now plans to use the TRUE+WAY ASL curriculum.

“This is a completely digital resource for students and teachers,” Dan Arntzen, School District 308′s executive director of high school instruction and K-12 assessments, told school board members at their April 22 meeting. “It’s really in-depth coverage of the deaf culture and really gets into the grammatical aspects of ASL beginning early in the resource, which really integrates well into our world language systems of how we operate every other world language.”

The school board is set to vote on the use of the resource at its June 3 meeting. The cost of the resource is $40 per license, which would translate to $14,000 for the 2024-25 school year.

The amount is within what the district has budgeted for new resources. As Arntzen told school board members, 343 Oswego High School and Oswego East High School students are registered to take the course in the fall.

“These digital licenses can be used once, so we would have to purchase them year after year,” he said. “But the $25 course fee will offset some of those costs as well.”

The contract for the use of the resource is for one year.

“We’re opting for a one-year deal, because quite frankly, this is a brand-new course for us,” Arntzen said. “We want to see if this is going to work for us and our needs.”

Last October, school board members voted 7-0 to add an American Sign Language course to the district’s high school curriculum at Oswego High School and Oswego East High School starting in the 2024-25 school year.

ASL is the third most commonly used language in the U.S., after English and Spanish. Arntzen had noted that Plainfield and Yorkville school districts are among the districts in the area offering sign language courses for students.

Staff said the course will allow for the district’s deaf and hard of hearing students who use sign language as their primary mode of communication to feel more included in their learning environment.

At the same time, the course will allow students to explore potential careers (some of which are experiencing a nationwide shortage) that require the use of sign language in the daily performance of their jobs, such as a sign language interpreter for the deaf or a speech/language pathologist.