Presque Isle school district to hire an ESOL teacher for a growing student population

7 months ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — SAD 1 School Board in Presque Isle voted unanimously Monday night to hire an English for Speakers of Other Languages teacher to meet the needs of an increasing population of students in the school system.

The school board last week decided to seek a Spanish interpreter to help two students who speak only that language. There are two applicants thus far. There are 13 students who qualify for ESOL services in the school system.

An ESOL-certified teacher helps a non-English speaking student learn English to access their education. 

“Federally it’s recommended through the United States Office of Civil Rights that we hire an ESOL teacher to work directly with these students,” SAD 1 superintendent Ben Greenlaw said.

The Presque Isle school system didn’t have any students who qualified for such services from 2016 to 2018, but the school district has seen an increase in students needing ESOL services over the last five years.

“When we had that influx of students who required [ESOL] support, we hired an ESOL-certified teacher,” Greenlaw said.

In the 2018-2019 school year, there was one student requiring ESOL services. That number jumped to 11 in the 2019-2020 school year, then by two more the next year.

Melanie Junkins used to be the ESOL-certified teacher for SAD 1 but resigned in September 2022 when the school district was down to about four students that required such services.

Earlier in the school board meeting, Greenlaw went over preliminary enrollments for SAD 1, which is down about 15 students so far in school year enrollments compared to last year. Student enrollment was up by 35 students last year. 

The final date to submit the number of student enrollments to the Maine Department of Education is Oct. 1, according to Greenlaw.

Zipple Elementary enrollment is up 16 students. Mapleton is staying the same at 233 students, Presque Isle Middle School is down 10, Pine Street School is down 15, and Presque Isle High School is down five.

The superintendent said in his report that the annual Central Aroostook Council on Education was held on Friday, Sept. 15, with Central Aroostook County school districts pooling their money together for a professional development day for teachers and educational technicians. 

Brandon Fleming, a former debate coach at Harvard University, was the keynote speaker at the professional development day.