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SDPB Radio Coverage of the South Dakota Legislature. See all coverage and find links to audio and video streams live from the Capitol at www.sdpb.org/statehouse

More Funding Sought for English Language Learners

Representative Mark Mickelson says South Dakota is home to about 2,200 students whose first language isn’t English. That’s why he’s a sponsor of Senate Bill 159, which attempts to adjust the state aid formula for students with limited English proficiency. Mickelson says South Dakota’s economic development is bringing in many immigrants, but schools don’t have the resources to support the learning needs of children who come in at Level 1 and need the most help.

“The amount we’re asking for is actually less than the actual cost. In terms of the 2,200 student number going down or up, in my mind, I’m thinking three or four years, I’m know there’s probably no typical case to get to Level 4 from Level 1, but the bottom of the bucket, the Level 1, are coming in at a rate that’s higher than the folks that you’re moving out. I believe there is some significant economic growth in the Huron area that’s going to lead to what may be a unique bump in the numbers,” Mickelson says.

Mickelson says the bulk of the costs for ELL (English Language Learners) students come from the need of extra staffing in classrooms. He says he hopes legislators bump the amount of funding for ELL students up by point 25 percent, which would equal about $1,100 each. Members of the House Education committee referred the bill to Appropriations.