Las Vegas Sun

July 28, 2015

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Lawmakers say governor’s program for English-language learners inadequate

CARSON CITY — Legislative budget officials today attacked Gov. Brian Sandoval’s program to set aside $14 million to help students not proficient in English, calling it too little for all of the students who need assistance.

Assemblyman Andy Eisen, D-Las Vegas, complained that the proposed formula is unfair to Clark County, which has the majority of students who need the extra help with English.

Eisen and others lodged complaints about the program, presented by the state Department of Education.

James Guthrie, state superintendent of public instruction, said this is a start-up grant program to give the state’s 17 school districts a chance to see what works in helping students learn English.

Figures presented by the Department of Education to the joint Assembly-Senate Budget Subcommittee show an estimated 50,000 students in the primary grades are not proficient in English. Of those, 37,544 are in Clark County.

Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, D-Las Vegas, said she is not happy that the program would not reach all the schools in her district. “This is insufficient,” she said.

Clark County lawmakers were not the only ones not pleased.

Sen. Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, complained that the figures presented by the state were flawed. The report said there were no English-learning students in his county. That is not accurate, he said.

Under the proposed formula, $78 would be set aside the first year for each student not proficient in English and $205 in the second year. Each county would qualify for a minimum of $10,000.

Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, said time is short to implement the program next school year and evaluate the results.

Rorie Fitzpatrick, deputy superintendent of public instruction, told the subcommittee that the department has been working with local school districts and is ready to go when the program is approved.

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