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Carney: New hires planned as ENL program balloons

Riverhead school board

Riverhead School District Superintendent Nancy Carney says administrators are preparing to hire more teachers and staff to handle an upward trend of foreign language students entering into the district on a “daily basis.”

Ms. Carney said Tuesday that 184 additional Limited English Proficient (LEP) students have enrolled so far this school year, bringing the districtwide total to 1,160 LEP students — an amount she said makes up 22 percent of the district’s 5,300 student population.

Here’s a breakdown of LEP student enrollment so far this school year as of Tuesday, according to the superintendent:

Aquebogue: 11 students
Phillips: 25 students
Riley : 6 students
Roanoke: 6 students
Pulaski: 24 students
Middle school: 27 students
High school: 85 students

The current budget included hiring six additional English as a New Language teachers, along with two bilingual elementary teachers, to address the increased needs and the district hasn’t had to spend additional money to accommodate the influx of LEP students, she said.

“These appropriations were needed to address the increase in the number of students we’ve seen as a district who arrive at our doors with little to no knowledge of English,” Ms. Carney said. “It is in everyone’s best interest that we teach these students English as quickly as possible and I credit the hard work of our ENL teachers for taking on that task.”

The superintendent has said she’s proposing to spend about $430,140 to hire new teachers next year to address increased student enrollment, including additional ENL teachers.

“We are anticipating needing at least four additional ENL teachers,” she said Tuesday. “These increases have added close to $640,000 to the budget for ENL teaching salaries alone from the 2014-15 school year to next year’s anticipated budget.”

The preliminary spending plan also calls for a $706,460 budget for non-instructional salaries,  a 7.16 percent increase over the current year, since the district needs to hire additional clerical staff to handle the influx of students, she said.

“I am hopeful that the Legislature in Albany will listen to superintendents such as me who have pointed out that individual communities cannot continue to be asked to solely fund the cost of educating these students,” Ms. Carney said. “We need targeted state aid that assists districts with the costs of teaching students English and helping them integrate into American society.”

Despite the increases, Ms. Carney said she’s confident a budget will be presented to voters that won’t pierce a slim 0.5 percent state-mandated cap on next year’s tax levy increase since the district is expected to save over $2 million through the latest retirement incentive program. The district also expects to receive some additional state aid, she said.

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