IPS proposes 1-year school for students learning English

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 22, 2016)-- Learning a new language while attending school is difficult, which is why IPS is proposing a new school just for immigrant students new to the U.S.

At IPS, there are about 4,500 students still learning English. Some of them just arrived to Indiana. English as a second language coordinator Jessica Feeser said it's time the district steps up to offer those newcomers a place to adjust to American academics. IPS is proposing an optional one-year school for qualifying seventh to ninth graders which could expand to students as young as third graders in the future.

"They need a lot of additional supports that perhaps aren't currently in place in all of the schools within IPS," she said. "We propose teaching reading, writing, speaking and listening all while at the same time teaching science, social studies, math, and language arts."

IPS has English as a second language (ESL) teachers at some schools, but this new school would streamline the district's resources in one space so new arrivals don't get lost in the mix.

The district first wants to focus on seventh through ninth-graders and then open it up to students as young as third-graders.

"We are helping them to navigate school in a way that's safe, that makes them feel secure. And so that way it'll provide that bridge so that when they go back tot heir neighborhood school, they'll feel equipped."

IPS is not planning on putting up a brand new building; instead the district's proposal suggests sharing space with a current school like Northwest High school.

But there's a hefty price tag.

With 13 staff members serving about 80 students, the program would cost about $1.3 million.

The school board will have to decide if the idea is worth the money.

"We have an obligation the best, the best education that we can offer," said Feeser. "I don't know that you could put a price on making sure that we are providing the most appropriate supports for students so that they can be successful."

The next school board meeting takes place on Tuesday.

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