Lawrence school board to hear report on English learning program that has seen decrease in enrollment

photo by: Mackenzie Clark/Journal-World File Photo

The Lawrence Board of Education meeting room at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive, is pictured in this file photo from Feb. 25, 2019.

Enrollment in English classes for native speakers of other languages in the Lawrence school district has decreased significantly in recent years, according to the district’s new report on its English to Speakers of Other Languages, or ESOL, program.

The Lawrence school board will hear a presentation on the district’s report during its meeting on Monday.

The ESOL program has seen a drop in enrollment of more than 300 students in recent years. According to the report, the district saw a steady increase of enrollment for the services from 2007 to 2016, reaching a high of 874 in 2016. But in 2017, the number of students using the program began to fall, and 521 students were in the program in 2020. Of those who are currently enrolled in the program, more than half speak Spanish as their first language. Other students in the program are speakers of Arabic, Chinese, Laotian, Native American languages, Vietnamese or Korean.

At the elementary level, the district offers ESOL programming at Hillcrest, Cordley, Schwegler and Sunflower elementary schools. Programming is also provided at all of the district’s middle schools and high schools.

The district finds students for the program by reviewing students and families who identify a first language other than English during enrollment and then screens them through language assessment. The exact services provided to students vary based on their needs.

In other business, the board will review a governance manual, which the board’s policy committee has been working on. The proposed manual formally outlines the board’s governance and operating procedures. According to the board’s agenda, it will consider approving the manual at a future meeting.

The school board will meet at 6 p.m. Monday through an online conference call. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school district encourages the public to watch the meeting on Midco channel 26 or online at youtube.com/USD497.

Those who want to speak during public comments at the meeting can still do so. The district asks for comments to be sent by email to PatronCommentary@usd497.org. Comments can also be emailed to board members ahead of the meeting. Their contact information is available on the district’s website at usd497.org/Board.


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