Four candidates – incumbents Barbara J. Hengels, James I. Morenz and Kerry L. Waser face challenger Deborarh “Jill” Hill – are running for three seats on the Schaumburg Township Elementary School District 54 board.

Candidates were asked by the Daily Herald the following question:

District 54 has a rapidly growing number of bilingual students. Are you happy with the current level of classes and services provided for these children or is more necessary?

Hengels: The current level seems appropriate. Staff and administration do well projecting the need and level of service required. If anything, I’d like to see foreign language classes in every school – but which part of the curriculum would be put aside to fit this in? A longer school day would help, we’ll see how negotiations work out!

Hill: In my younger daughter’s class, about one-third are unilangual Spanish speakers who go to a bilingual class in the morning; accompanying them is a student who speaks Urdu. In class there is also a student whose primary language is German. The class’s teacher is a unilangual English speaker who is a dedicated and loving educator, but she is having a challenge communicating. Translators have not always been available, and the teacher has been resourceful in enlisting the help of nearby parents – but sometimes the responsibility of translating has fallen upon a 7-year-old student.

When there are a group of students who speak the same language, a bilingual class is an appropriate way for them to learn English while continuing their academic progress in their common native language. It is not appropriate to lump speakers of different languages together in a bilingual program, an English as a Second Language (ESL) program would be more appropriate – and the teachers should have ESL training.

Morenz: I think again that we have to be constantly monitoring our ever changing population and adapt our programs to meet the needs of all our children. I am happy with the plan that we have for responding and planning for these shifts in population. Remember that bilingual courses more and more are being structured not only to teach the non-English speaking student, but those who wish to learn second languages as well.

Waser: I believe we are going to continue our growth in the number of bilingual students. This is an area to which we will probably need to devote more resources in the future.

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