Monday, September 15, 2003
Steamboat Springs In an effort to meet the growing needs of an increasing population of non-English speaking students, the Steamboat Springs School Board approved on Monday the hiring of an additional English as a Second Language aide.
Two additional English Language Learners enrolled in Steamboat schools on Monday, bringing the total number of students who need English-acquisition assistance to 33. Of those students, 14 are enrolled at Soda Creek Elementary School, 12 at the middle school and seven at the high school.
This year's enrollment of English Language Learners, as such students are officially called, has nearly tripled last year's. Only 12 students needed language-acquisition help by the end of the 2002-03 school year. The drastic increase has greatly expanded the responsibility of the ESL tutor hired by the district this summer, to the point that another staff member is needed to meet the needs of the students, Content Standards Director Kelly Stanford said.
"It's a combination of the number of students, their proficiency levels and scheduling conflicts at the schools," Stanford said of the need to hire an additional ESL staff member.
The School Board approved the hiring of an ESL aide at a salary of up to $17,000, and changed the job description and pay grade of the current ESL tutor to that of ESL aide.
The changes fall within the district's budget, Superintendent Donna Howell said.
Additional aides will not be needed this year unless the English Language Learner population continues to increase, Stanford said. The use of ESL aides as opposed to teachers was approved by the state Department of Education this spring when it reviewed Stanford's plans for the district's ESL program.
The additional English Language Learners who have enrolled this year do not change the district's requirements, Stanford said. However, the district may need to hire an ESL teacher next year if the needs continue to increase.
"We'll be watching to see what the stability of the English Language Learner population is," Stanford said. "It's a very interesting development and we'll be watching it very closely."
All of the non-English-proficient students who enrolled in the district for the first time this fall are Spanish-speaking, Stanford said.
Soda Creek principal Judy Harris, whose school has nearly half of the district's total English Language Learner population, said the improvements in the district's ESL program this year are significant.
"The program is markedly different than it's been in the past," Harris said. "We've truly moved from interpreting for ELL students to a language-acquisition program."
Harris credited Stanford and Michelle Miller, a teacher on special assignment, for their work at ESL workshops and seminars.
-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234
or e-mail email@example.com