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West Fargo OKs hiring ESL staff

The West Fargo School Board unanimously approved Monday hiring more staff to help students with deficiencies in speaking, reading and writing English.

The West Fargo School Board unanimously approved Monday hiring more staff to help students with deficiencies in speaking, reading and writing English.

One part-time teacher and one part-time paraprofessional will be hired to address needs at South Elementary, Berger Elementary and the West Fargo Middle School.

The district has 33 more students in its English as a Second Language program than last year. The number of students needing help with English has risen steadily over the past five years.

Board member Troy Aswege asked if the staff additions are enough.

"There's a part of me that thinks we should address this need more than we are," he said.

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Administrators felt comfortable with the request and said there's room to absorb a few more students, said Louise Dardis, assistant superintendent.

South Elementary saw the biggest hike with 29 ESL students, 20 more than last year. Teachers from Eastwood Elementary, which is accustomed to high numbers of ESL students, will mentor South teachers, said Superintendent Chuck Cheney.

"They'll share information on what has worked best for them in reaching these students," he said. "Although adding ESL staff helps, research shows that kids learn English faster in the classrooms with their peers."

The district will receive some funds from the state to help offset the cost of offering more ESL services, but the total amount isn't yet known, Cheney said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erin Hemme Froslie at (701) 241-5534

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