Bilingual Program Faces Review To Cope With Increase In Pupils

Officials in Prospect Heights School District 23 are considering revamping their bilingual program to address an increase in pupils who aren’t proficient in English.

“Based on historical data, those numbers will continue to increase,” said Greg Guarrine, the district’s director of student services and curriculum planning.

According to a report, the district has had a 21 percent increase in bilingual pupils in the last five years, yet the bilingual curriculum has remained the same.

“This is a big percentage of the student population,” said Board Member Linda Birnbaum.

Guarrine said the highest percentage of such pupils are Polish, followed by Spanish, Russian and Greek pupils. In all, 32 languages are spoken in the district’s four schools. Guarrine also said the number of bilingual pupils fluctuates throughout the school year because of the many transient families in the area.

Some officials have expressed concern that pupils may leave the bilingual program before becoming proficient in English. Whatever changes are made, Guarrine said, the district probably would not need to hire more teachers.

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