LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- In an effort to accommodate its growing population of non-English speaking students, Jefferson County Public Schools will soon add four new ESL Newcomer Academy classrooms to its Gheens Academy.

Allison Martin, a JCPS spokeswoman, says the move is temporary as the district works on a recommendation to that would create a centralized ESL Newcomer Academy space for the 2018-19 year.

"We will start with four classes with about 70 students next week," she said. "Because of the increased enrollment, we expect to grow to eight classrooms at Gheens within the next four to six weeks."

The district's Newcomer Academy, which serves beginning English speakers in grades 6-10, is housed at the Academy @ Shawnee at 39th and Market streets. It opened in 2006 with an enrollment of about 200 students, about 570 students are now assigned there.

Two years ago, the district added a satellite campus of four Newcomer classrooms at the Phoenix School, housed at the former Myers Middle School building in Hikes Point. It started with 60 students -- and had grown to 200 this year.

JCPS also opened the International Academy at Iroquois High – a program similar to Newcomer – at the start of the 2014-15 school year.

Martin says the district's current enrollment at both Newcomer Academy sites is 771 students.

That growth comes as JCPS continues to add more students overall who are studying English as a second language. There are roughly 6,500 such students this school year – an increase from 3,000 in 2010, according to data provided by the district.

This is not the first time the district has utilized classrooms at its Gheens Academy, which is primarily used for administrative offices, professional learning opportunities for teachers/staff and meetings. 

In 2015, Male High School moved students into four classrooms at Gheens to help address overcrowding issues. Martin said Wednesday that Male High has continued to use space at Gheens, roughly 200 students utilize classrooms there each day.

District officials are expected to bring a recommendation to the school board later this spring to create a centralized ESL Newcomer Academy space in JCPS. 

Previous story:

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

Copyright 2017 WDRB News. All rights reserved.