The Austin Public Schools and Richfield Public Schools teams provided case studies of how English Learners (EL) funding works in their school district to the School Finance Working Group Thursday, December 12, at the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE).
Austin Public Schools has seen an increasing enrollment over the last few years. Austin went from 10 EL teachers in 2009-10 to 26 teachers in 2019-20. There are 47 home languages in Austin Public Schools. Members of the administrative team for Austin shared some ideas for improvements or changes including differentiated funding based upon level of need and the expansion or adjustment of the expiration cap on funding and expanding licensed EL teachers by working with local universities.
The Richfield Public School district encompasses seven square miles just outside the Twin Cities Metropolitan area. Their school district has employs 19.7 FTE and has 25 percent EL students. There are 35 languages spoken in student’s homes, 40 percent of which are Spanish. Richfield is experiencing great success with their programs and are proud of their dual immersion programs and high graduation rates.
According to data from MDE, the average cross-subsidy per EL student has tripled in the last 10 years. Both districts agree that EL needs are growing in districts and funding needs are increasing, sometimes causing them to divert funds from other areas. They also agree finding and hiring licensed EL staff is difficult.
The January agenda will present case studies on two issues — the achievement gap and enrollment options.