August 27 2019

Burlington Schools to have New English Language Learner Coordinator Position

By: Rich Hosford

The Burlington School Department will soon have an English Language Learner (ELL) Coordinator to help address the growing need of students in the district who have a language other than English as their primary language. 


Superintendent Eric Conti said that for now this will not be a new position in the district as they will hire from within the district and shift responsibilities around. He said the change will require moving someone from a Unit A position with 187 days a year to a Unit D position with 200 days per year. 


“It’s not a new salary, it’s a different classification that has additional days and potentially some additional administration responsibilities that we feel would allow us to fulfill the Department of Education’s recommendation that we have an ELL coordinator,” he said. “We will post it internally so essentially it would be just moving someone out of Unit A into Unit D.”


Conti further explained that right now at least one ELL teacher does both curriculum work and direct work with students and that after an ELL Coordinator is named that person would only work with students and the curriculum work, among other responsibilities, would be taken up by the coordinator. He did also say, however, that there may be a need for an additional position in the future. 


“If our student enrollment [of students who need ELL education] continues to grow we may need to add someone,” he said. 


Assistant Superintendent Patrick Larkin explained how the growth in this population has lead to the need for a coordinator to both meet state recommendations and the need of students. He said in 2013 the percent of students categorized as ELL was 2.4 percent and that this year it is 5 percent. He further said that at that time there were three ELL teachers for the elementary schools and one person who moved between the middle school and the high school. Now, based on the student population, there are two ELL teachers at Francis Wyman, two at Pine Glen, two at Memorial, one at Fox Hill, two in the middle school and two at Burlington High School. 


“The state recommends that when you hit 200 students you should have a full-time coordinator,” he said. “In our attempt to be proactive I did create a job description for the coordinator position.” 


He also said that the state requirements regarding ELL students have tightened recently and this would help the district stay up with the goals of the Department of Education while also benefiting the students. 


“The new accountability system started by the state last year has a heavy component and how we’ll be judged as individual schools and a district is the growth of our English learners so to have someone who can provide more focused oversight is to our advantage and ultimately to the advantage of the students,” he said. 


The School Committee voted in favor of creating the ELL Coordinator position.


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