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Covington Schools Add Spanish-Speaking Staff & Other School Board Notes

An increase in the number of Spanish-speaking students at Covington Independent Public Schools prompted the Board of Education to create a new English Language Learner (ELL) teacher and to move the translator position from contractor to staff member.

District leaders expect 200 Spanish-speaking students to be enrolled in CIPS during the 2013-14 school year, an increase from 159 in 2012-13.

Data shows that forty-four Hispanic students exited the James E. Biggs Early Learning Center last year and will be moving on to Kindergarten classes throughout the district, with the highest population of Spanish-speaking students being at John G. Carlisle Elementary.

Six students will move from sixth grade at John G. to Holmes Middle School while twenty-five new ELL students will enter John G. this coming school year, Superintendent Alvin Garrison said.

Numbers from last year's numbers show 77 ELL students at John G., 28 at Holmes High School, 20 at Holmes Middle, 17 at Sixth District, 11 at Glenn O. Swing, 3 at Latonia, 2 at Ninth District, and 1 at the Adult High School.

"We really have a need for this and may need another person at some point," said Board Member Julie Geisen Scheper.

Meanwhile, the district previously contracted the services of an interpreter to facilitate communication between Spanish-speaking parents and staff members. Following unanimous board approval, that contractor will now be added to the district as a full-time staff member.

Other notes:

  • The district's financial report indicates that it brought in more than $7 million more than what it budget to take in and the district accountant said that those extra funds may be used to restore previous cuts made, though which cuts were not explicitly defined
  • The school board, at its next meeting on August 15, will consider approving a permit so that charity Isaiah House can use John G.'s parking lot for its monthly hand-outs of food, toys, and other supplies. July's event sparked a controversy when residents of the Old Seminary Square neighborhood complained that the event had grown too large and that portable toilets were placed directly in front of a newly constructed house that was scheduled for showings that day. (SEE PREVIOUSLY: Charity Event that Upset Neighbors Will Seek Proper Permission)
  • Community Learning Center Coordinator position was created to oversee the newest learning center in the district which will be placed at Latonia Elementary. The Community Learning Center (CLC) coordinator will work with school staff and community partners to extend learning opportunities for students and families. These learning opportunities will occur before and after school as well as in the summer.  Covington Partners will reimburse Covington Independent Public Schools for salary and fringe benefits costs associated with this position.
  • Covington Partners' partnership with the school district was renewed for another year. 
  • A nutrition services clerical assistant position was created to assist with the mounting paperwork associated with food service in schools. District administrator Janice Wilkerson explained that while the good news is that the quality of food has improved and is better for the students, the paperwork involved has created "clerical overload". Just one slice of pizza, she said, has to be documented in multiple ways because the crust must be counted as a grain, the cheese as dairy, the sauce as vegetable, etc.
  • The meeting marked the first official one for new Superintendent Alvin Garrison, who took over for Lynda Jackson, who retired, on July 1. He intends to move to Covington in September. "I've had a great first month," he said. "We have great people and I'm happy to be here."

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photo: Board of Education Building in Covington/RCN file