MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — More than 1,000 more students enrolled in Manatee County this school year. It’s made it hard to keep up with when it comes to teachers. Especially when the students don’t all speak English.
In the last 10 years, the number of students has tripled. The ESOL, Migrant and Dual Language programs director said every year they gain anywhere from 400 to 800 students who speak another language. The Manatee County School District said they have 6,445 students who fall under English Language Learners or ELL for short.
The language barrier is making it hard for many schools to get their students reading on grade-level. Superintendent Cynthia Saunders said they need more bilingual teachers and administrators
"If our ELL population in our schools is over 30-percent, we need to make sure that we are providing all the assistance to help those students be successful,” Saunders said.
Superintendent Saunders said they are planning to expand their bilingual resources and are working on a strategic plan of diversity and comprehension. But, the school district doesn't keep track of how many of their teachers speak another language. It's not a requirement, just a bonus.
The county needs an ESOL instructor for every 50 students, but they currently only have just over 100 biliterate ESOL para-professionals. The district said they need more of them to break down the language barrier.
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