During the May 2 meeting of the City’s School Finance Review Commission, principals from the Everett Public Schools asked to add an additional 14 certified English Language Learner (ELL) professionals to the district in Fiscal Year 2020 in order to meet the needs of an increasing number of students whose first language is not English.
While the actual enrollment of students in the Everett Public Schools has remained fairly consistent for the past five years, principals are noticing an ever-increasing percentage of students with limited English proficiency.
Principals and vice principals from Everett High School, and the English, Parlin, Whittier and Keverian K-8 schools spoke about the growing demand for ELL teachers in a district with ever-shifting demographics.
The Keverian School will be offering an English Language Education program to students of all grade levels. They are requesting the most ELL assistance, with five additional ELL teachers.
“Our Limited English Proficiency population is about 20 percent of our entire population,” said Principal Alexander Naumann. “We have 863 [total students]. We have 176 students that are Limited English Proficiency.”
“Sixty-six percent of the students at our school, their home language is not English,” he continued. “That increases every year.”
Parlin School currently has 10 ELL teachers and is requesting three more. Roughly half of the Parlin School students are ELL students, a population that has nearly doubled in just two years, according to Principal Michelle Crowell.
“I have 435 ELL students out of 988 [total students],” she said. “In 2017, I had 280. In 2018, there was 320. This year I have 435.”
“I’m getting two to three students a week that are Level 1,” Crowell continued. “So they’re brand new to the country.”
Crowell reported that her eighth grade ELL teacher currently services 64 students, while her first grade ELL teacher services 63.
“This makes their scheduling extremely difficult because the State has regulations in regard to when these kids have to be serviced,” she said. “We’re meeting the needs of them now, but it’s difficult.”
She also shared that Parlin is currently the lowest-achieving school in the district when it comes to literacy, which may be attributed to its high percentage of ELLs.
The Whittier School wants to add one ELL teacher.
“With our current ELL population on the rise at over 260 students, we see a need for an additional teacher,” said Principal David Brady in his budget proposal.
While the Everett Public School District is obligated to offer ELL support to students that don’t speak English, students’ parents can choose to opt out of this service by sending their children to a school that doesn’t offer ELL classes or support. As a result, the district has concentrated its ELL resources to those schools that are not opt-out schools.
The English School is one of those opt-out schools, but it wants to add two ELL teachers for the next fiscal year to provide additional support to non-English speakers.
Everett High School is requesting an ELL Department Chair to oversee its existing ELL program.
In addition to the individual requests from the schools for ELL support, the district is also seeking an ELL Director and an ELL Coordinator for grades K-8.
“We see ELL becoming a department like Special Education,” said Assistant Superintendent of Business Affairs Charles Obremski. “If this continues the way it’s going, you’ll need a whole office with secretaries to handle all the students and all the parents.” Mayor Carlo DeMaria has proposed requiring college-bound high school seniors to tutor English Language Learners in the K-8 schools as part of their graduation requirements.