BURLINGTON - The fastest growing population in the Burlington schools are English language learners (ELL).

As a result, the School Committee unanimously approved the creation of an ELL coordinator position to help manage the burgeoning population.

The state is formalizing how districts are to interact and provide services for those who do not use english as their primary language. The town has added ELL positions in recent years as needed, but the district is reaching a level of capacity where the state is asking them to create an ELL coordinator position. The capacity figure is 200, and Burlington is at 185 ELL students right now, so the threshold will be met in the very near future.

When a district reaches 200 ELL students, the state typically wants an ELL director position created, but Burlington is going the coordinator route with budget impacts in mind, courtesy of the fiscal uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Over the last 10 years, we have grown dramatically,” declared Assistant School Supt. Patrick Larkin. “We used to have one ELL teacher who would service several schools. Now, we have 11 ELL staff members. With the growing numbers, now is a good time to have an ELL certified individual spend more time with the coordinating aspect of the program.”

School Supt. Dr. Eric Conti, added, “We are not asking for a full-time director, just a coordinator with a stipend. We are not looking to add a director with our budget uncertainty. The coordinator will be an intermediate step before we cross the threshold of 200 ELL students in the district.”

The School Committee unanimously approved the ELL coordinator stipend.

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