Des Plaines schools see trouble finding bilingual teachers; News

Des Plaines elementary school officials Thursday said they hope to hire two bilingual education teachers for their growing non- English-speaking enrollment – if they can find them.

Officials from Des Plaines Elementary District 62 said they have to go from 18 bilingual education teachers now to 20 next year to serve their rising enrollment of students with limited proficiency in English.

However, such teachers are now in demand regionally and nationally as other school systems experience similar enrollment growth.

“This is a very specialized person we’re looking to hire. There’s a shortage everywhere,” Sharon Phillips, the district’s multicultural specialist, told officials.

According to the state-mandated bilingual census done earlier this school year, the district has 782 students with a limited proficiency in English.

Last year, the district had 642 students who fell into that category.

Phillips said for the 2000-2001 school year that number could rise to 867 students.

According to the bilingual census, 2,019 students, or 41 percent of the district’s enrollment of more than 4,900, speak a first language other than English. Many of those students are proficient in English.

By contrast in 1982, for example, only 19.2 percent of the district’s students came from non-English-speaking households.

The three main languages other than English spoken in District 62 are Spanish, Gujarati and Polish.

Recently, District 62 officials participated in a program from the State Board of Education where 17 school districts’ representatives traveled to Spain to find bilingual teachers.

District 62 hired four teachers who received a three-year visa to teach in the United States under the program.

Overall, according to the census, District 62 students speak 40 different languages ranging from Albanian to Vietnamese.

The district spends more than $ 1 million for the multicultural program, Phillips said.

District 62 school board members indicated that they would support funding for the additional teaching positions when the new budget is set later this summer.



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