LIVINGSTON – With a growing population of students who do not speak English as their first language, the Livingston Parish School Board approved additional personnel to the English as a Second Language program.

The ESL program will also start an intake center at the Pathways facility in Walker.

Supervisor Steve Vampran told the board on May 3 that enrollment of English as Second Language students has grown from 220 in 2010 to 860 today.

Projections are the program will handle 1,000 students in the 2018-19 school year.

Much of the growth stems from the August 2016 flood, with the majority of the ESL students as native Spanish speakers, Vampran said.

“Many of these students have parents who have come to the area to help rebuild homes,” he said. “But, the trend was rising before.”

The ESL program has a staff of five teachers, Vampran said, with one of them responsible for meeting teachers across the district to develop ESL student plans, and 13 paraprofessionals.

“The ratio serving students is about 51:1,” Vampran said. “This is not impactful.”

Many times, ESL personnel are pulled away from servicing students to the schools across the district to process incoming ESL students, he said, taking away from instructional time.

“We want to open an intake center at the Pathways campus in Walker,” he said. “This will help take some pressure off the schools.”

The intake center would handle testing to determine proper grade-level placement, process all documents concerning registration and enrollment and provide parents a central point of contact for information, Vampran said.

The board approved the creation of two positions – an English language learner coordinator and an English language learner secretary – to set the groundwork for an intake center at Pathways.

Ideally, a teacher and paraprofessional also would staff the intake center, Vampran said. All personnel would need to be fluent in Spanish and English.

In other business, the School Board approved filling a vacant elementary curriculum supervisor position to help address additional workload from federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requirements.

Director of Curriculum Dawn Rush said an elementary curriculum supervisor position was held vacant for several years to address a period of financial hardship rather than reduce the teacher workforce and increase class sizes.

Rush said responsibilities were shifted to other staff, but ESSA requirements added additional workload to her department.

The Curriculum Department picked up mandated new responsibilities and has to observe and monitor early childhood teachers for the 3- and 4-year-old pre-kindergarten students.

“We have to observe the early childhood teachers five times a year and are responsible for entering the data for reporting to the state,” Rush said.

This position will take on the pre-kindergarten program duties, Rush said. 

In other action, the board:

--Recognized Yes I Can national winners Gabriel Garland of Albany Middle School and Zachary Yang of Southside Elementary.

--Approved bids from Mashon and Associates for flooring replacement due to damage from the August 2016 flood. The bids were $196,000 for the replacement at Denham Springs High and $182,000 for the Denham Springs Junior High replacement.

--Granted authority to advertise for bids for custodial supplies for 2018-19.

--Granted authority to advertise for bids for the Live Oak High baseball and softball complex.

--Named Ziler and Associates as the professional of record for the Pine Ridge roof repairs.

--Granted authority to advertise for bids for renovations at Maurepas School.

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