After beefing up its program a year ago to meet the needs of the non-English-speaking student population, the Moffat County School District is once again advertising for additional aides to help educate the group, which grew another 25 percent this year.
Because of an increase of 37 English Language Learner (ELL) students, administrators are working to hire additional bilingual staff.
The ELL students number 144 this year, up from 108 at the end of the last school year.
Superintendent Pete Bergmann said the district has received $63,000 in state funding to expand its district kindergarten and preschool programs.
Indirectly, that funding will be used to hire another full-time person to work with ELL students, providing the district with one ELL instructor in each building.
The money has been allotted to the district so it can hire staff to work with students who need additional assistance in preschool and kindergarten.
"We want to hire people to work with kids who, in order to succeed, need intervention at an early age," Bergmann said. "Obviously ELL students need early intervention. We're looking for teachers who are bilingual to help with the extended kindergarten and all of the ELL population."
Right now each building has an ELL instructor, but ELL Coordinator Dustin Ence fills the role as full-time instructor at Craig Middle School and coordinator of the entire ELL staff district wide.
"This will free Dustin up to be more of just a coordinator," Bergmann said. "He will have more time to work with all of the classroom teachers."
Ence, who was hired last year as ELL coordinator, said despite the increase in the number students, the program is running smooth.
"It's always hard to project how many students you'll have but it
is a few more than we thought," he said of the increase in ELL
students. "But for the most part things are running smoother this year."
Bergmann said the increase of 37 students did not come as a huge surprise, and said the district was prepared because of the adjustments made last year.
With the additional staff hired last year, all students at the grade school level were able to attend their neighborhood schools.
Prior to the staffing increase,
all ELL students were bussed
to Ridgeview Elementary
"This is pretty much the trend we predicted we would face," he said. "That's why we pursued the model of keeping students in their neighborhood schools last year by hiring additional staff."
With 2,606 students enrolled district wide, the district had an increase of 84 students, up from 2,522 a year ago.
Bergmann said enrollment remains stable, and attributed the slight increase to the number of new ELL students, who have moved with their families to Moffat County, and a small graduating class of 164 last year, compared to an incoming class of 180 this year.