- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 8, 2018

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - New figures show that in five years more than a quarter of Wichita public school students will need help learning to speak, read and write English.

The Kansas Association of School Boards’ projections show that while overall Wichita student enrollment is expected to drop slightly, the number of students who aren’t native English speakers will increase from about 23 percent to about 27 percent in 2023.

The change is echoing a statewide trend, The Wichita Eagle reported. The number of students in Kansas public schools rose about 1 percent from 2012-2017. Over the same period, the number of English language learners increased nearly 42 percent. School officials said English language learners cost more to educate because they require a multitude of additional services.

An influx of refugee families in Wichita has meant more children and teens coming to school with learning gaps, post-traumatic stress syndrome and behavior issues that affect learning.

“We’re watching the numbers and planning, because we definitely want to be proactive,” said Shannon Benoit, executive director of the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program in Wichita public schools.

Benoit said the Wichita district will open more programs if needed, provide more training for teachers and work with families “to make sure they get into the right programs and get the wrap-around services they might need.”


Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com

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