Manchester school board member calls for meeting on English Language Learner program
MANCHESTER — A hearing should be held to address concerns about the school district’s English Language Learner program, a key school board member said Monday.
Sarah Ambrogi, chairwoman of the Curriculum and Instruction Committee, said she’d like to hear from critics as well as school officials and supporters of the program.
Monday, the New Hampshire Union Leader quoted former students who complained about misplacement in ELL classes and a lackluster curriculum.
Also Monday, Mayor Ted Gatsas said he’s visited the Central High School ELL program and afterward asked Superintendent Tom Brennan why some students were in the program.
“I can tell you, some of the students, from what I’ve seen, shouldn’t be in the program,” Gatsas said.
While he said ELL is appropriate for students with limited English skills, the question is how long students remain there.
The Union Leader reported about students who were placed in ELL classes despite their English proficiency. In such classes, they lacked access to challenging coursework needed for college admission.
They also complained about the location of ELL students in one area of Central, and the placement of the high-school program in a single high school.
School officials have said ELL is in a state of flux, but budget cutting will likely force changes next year.
“I want to get these issues out into the open,” Ambrogi said Monday. But she noted that Central ELL students recently attended a school board meeting and spoke in support of the school’s ELL program.
“I don’t understand these comments at all, not based on what we were told at the June (school board) meeting,” said Vice Chairman David Gelinas. Fearing the program would be cut, current and former ELL students praised it, he said.
He welcomed a hearing on the part of the Curriculum and Instruction Committee. Ambrogi said she would like to hear from the public and then have district officials address their concerns.
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