JCPS leaders want to find new building for growing number of ESL - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS leaders want to find new building for growing number of ESL Newcomer students

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -

They're filling classrooms so fast, JCPS can barely keep up. 

The district's special school for ESL students -- who learn English as a second language -- are spread across three different campuses. But on Tuesday, acting superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio announced he wants to find a new building to house the ESL Newcomer Academy under one roof.

Last year, the ESL Newcomer Academy started with 430 students. By the end of the year, enrollment grew to more than 900.

"To accommodate that growth, we hired an additional 12 teachers," Principal Gwen Snow said at Tuesday night's board meeting.

The school's main campus is at the Academy @ Shawnee. Snow described the major growth over the past five years.

"It's a challenge," she said. "It's good to have the space. At least there's a sigh of relief. There's space."

But that space fills quickly. The school added a satellite campus at the Phoenix School two years ago and recently needed even more classrooms at the Gheens Academy.

"When we moved into the Gheens space, we were at a point, the following week, where we added 62 students in two weeks," Snow said. "That filled up two classrooms right there. We grew right into that space right away."

JCPS leaders acknowledge the need for a new building.

"In 2018-2019, we will have a new facility for ESL Newcomer," Pollio announced at the meeting.

This upcoming school year, the academy will remain in its three-campus setup. But ideally, not for long.

"This needs to be the last school year where our ESL services are divided amongst three facilities," said Pollio, who was met by applause from teachers.

Snow said a single building will help with student safety and resources.

Currently, the school's library, counselors and social workers are housed on separate campuses. Snow said that a new building could also give new students, who are new to this country, a sense of identity.

The district hopes to have a new school for the academy by the 2018-19 school year.

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