Bilingual program gets a boost

Grant: Federal funds will help Vietnamese children in Westminster learn English; superintendent with bilingual background joins district.

WESTMINSTER, CA—A new superintendent as well as more money to help the bilingual education program highlight the new school year in the Westminster School District.

The district has won an $ 875,000 federal grant to help Vietnamese children learn English.

The money will be used at Meairs and Webber elementary schools to specialize math and science lessons so the Vietnamese students can get more help with their English skills.

The district will receive $ 175,000 a year for five years.

“This is a great boost to our bilingual-education program,” said Tracy Painter, the district’s special-projects coordinator.

About 300 of the 1,000 students at Meairs and Webber speak Vietnamese as their first language.

Also new in the school district this fall is Barbara Fileto, assistant superintendent for educational services.

“Barbara is a pro at managing and improving public schools,” Superintendent Gail Wickstrom said. “Her background, especially her work with bilingual programs, will fit perfectly with the needs of our schools. “

Fileto is fluent in Spanish, and has worked with Spanish and Vietnamese students in Santa Barbara County. She was bilingual education coordinator for the Goleta Union School District and director of bilingual education for the 2,600-student Carpinteria Unified School District.

“Right now, I see myself as a sponge,” Fileto said.

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