Budget Cuts Hurt English Language Learners in Higher Grades - 8 News NOW

Budget Cuts Hurt English Language Learners in Higher Grades

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LAS VEGAS -- The Clark County School District now says the state can do better to help English language learning students, especially those in middle and high school.

Up until a few years ago, there were English Language Learning Specialists at every school in the district; however, with the recent budget cuts that is no longer the case.

The cuts could be hurting ELL high school students the most.

Seventeen-year-old Jing Wang moved to Las Vegas from her native China in June. The high school sophomore is doing everything she can to learn English.

"If English is better, better, better, I can have more friends everybody can chat with me. I love that," Jing said.

Jing attends Sierra Vista High School, one of the few schools in the valley that still has an English Language Learning Specialist.

Sierra Vista High School principal Shawn Boyle has to allocate his own school budget to keep ELL specialist Connie McFarland.

"With the growing ELL population, I do everything to keep Ms. McFarland because of success rate she has working with these kids," Boyle said.

A few years ago, the district had ELL specialists in every school but most of those jobs were eliminated due to budget cuts.

Now, according to CCSD assistant superintendent Lucy Keaton, there is only enough money to hire 13 coaches to cater to 56,000 ELL students. The coaches are sent out to schools to help teachers recognize the needs of those students.

"We don't have funds right now. So, we do, as a department, what we can," Keaton said.

Keaton says she is working to find funding for more tutoring programs and an English language camp, especially for students who are newcomers to this country.

"You don't learn the language in one year. It takes time," Keaton said.

For Jing, she is using the time she has left in high school to improve her English and make it to college.

"I want to be a doctor or a nurse, maybe dentist is okay," Jing said.

The state did allocate some $50 million earlier this year to fund ELL programs statewide, but that money was focused mainly on helping kids in elementary schools.

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