More funding in the state budget coupled with new legislation is giving a boost to Danbury's effort to attract more bilingual teachers to the district. Deputy School Superintendent William Glass says the state budget for the coming year includes about $1 million more for bilingual education than is set aside in the current budget. The funding will rise to $3.5 million in the following fiscal year.
Glass says there are about 2,400 English Language Learners in the district, up from about 600 in the late 90s. He notes that the number is growing as enrollment goes up. Danbury currently has about 11,000 students in the district, and ELL students from Spanish and Portuguese speaking homes make up about 43 percent.
50-percent of instruction is in the native language, with the other half of instruction in English by January, when it transitions to more English by the end of the school year. Glass says it takes a very specialized teacher to do that and they are in very short supply.
Danbury recently created a partnership with Western Connecticut State University to train and recruit bilingual teachers.
The new legislation approved by the General Assembly this session, which still awaits Governor Malloy's signature to take effect, would allow applicants where there are shortages to receive a 90-day temporary teacher certificate. The bill also requires the state Department of Education to create or join interstate agreements. The agreements could include a reduction in the number of years of experience that out-of-state teachers need to earn Connecticut credentials. Teachers would only need two years experience instead of the current three years.