Lawmakers on Monday recommended more study but no more money for bilingual-education programs in Arizona schools.

Experts need to determine the best way to help the 111,000 students who struggle with English, and then decide how to fund any improvements in bilingual programs, members of a House-Senate study panel concluded.

The Republican-dominated panel rejected a proposal by Sen. Joe Eddie Lopez, D-southwest Phoenix, to determine the per-student cost of bilingual programs and increase spending to meet that cost.

Lopez said a 1988 per-student cost of $464 should be adjusted for inflation, contending that current state spending of $162 per Limited English Proficiency student is inadequate.

But the Arizona Department of Education said $343 million in federal funds and grants is available for special training of students with language problems.

That figure was disputed, and the committee recommended that a comprehensive study of bilingual education include solid figures on the cost.

Besides the major study, the committee recommended that universities include bilingual-education credentials along with bachelor’s degrees rather than requiring additional courses for special certification.

The Department of Education should monitor the 50 schools with the most bilingual students at least every four years to ensure that the students are learning and not being kept in special programs just to maintain funding, the committee said.

The recommendations will be used as a guideline for legislation when lawmakers convene their regular session Jan. 10.

Mike McCloy may be reached at [email protected] or at (602) 444-8111.

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