Apollo Elementary School, facing rising numbers of Spanish-speaking students, is searching for its first bilingual instructor, whose salary should be partly offset by the state.

Apollo, at 10100 Dee Rd., Des Plaines, has long been home to a large number of ethnic groups, but the number of students in each group has traditionally been shy of 20–the threshold set by the Illinois State Board of Education to qualify for special bilingual education funds.

The school’s Spanish-speaking population has been above that mark for the past couple of years. But district officials continued grouping those students in a broader program–called East Maine Multicultural Education–for all students with limited proficiency in English until state officials noticed the high number earlier this year while reviewing an application to fund the EMME program.

The state has identified 28 Spanish-speaking students at Apollo whose command of English was poor enough to warrant special attention, according to District 63 Supt. Robert Varga.

Varga said the district expects the salary range to be from $35,000 to $50,000. The level of state reimbursement is not yet clear.

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