The Owensboro Public Schools Board of Education on Thursday approved hiring an additional English language instructional assistant in preparation for the 100 Afghan citizens who will be arriving in Owensboro between now and March 31, 2022.

Earlier this month, the International Center of Owensboro made the announcement that Afghan citizens who were granted humanitarian parole by the United States would be moving to this area over the next several months. Refugees coming to Owensboro are individuals who have helped support U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan and have been in the processing pipeline for several months awaiting clearance to receive asylum in the U.S., according to International Center of Owensboro site director Anna Allen.

The English language, or EL, instructional assistant will be placed at Owensboro High School, but will potentially be split with the Owensboro Innovation Middle School.

Currently, the district has 264 EL students: 42 at Cravens Elementary School; 59 at Estes Elementary School; 75 at Foust Elementary School; 34 at Owensboro Middle School and six at iMiddle; and 48 at OHS. There are 10 EL educators in the school system, and four assistants.

District guidelines state that for every 40 students there should be one teacher, and any number greater than 40 should have one teacher and one assistant. Eighty students would need two teachers assigned to assist them.

The district has re-tailored its EL services this school year with the addition of a EL student services coordinator. While the coordinator is not a new position, it has been recrafted to become an all-encompassing resource for migrant, refugee and English-learning families.

With the potential Afghan students headed to the area soon, OPS Superintendent Matthew Constant said there is a need for more staff.

Board member Leigh Rhoads Doyal asked Constant if these students are expected, or if this position was already needed because of the amount of EL students the district currently has.

“It’s both,” Constant said, saying that the Afghan citizens are on the way. “One hundred will be coming, and you just never know where housing will be found, so some will be in the city.”

The board also approved hiring an additional food service employee at Hager Preschool, as well as an additional payroll clerk to help in the business administration office.

Board members also approved granting Constant authorization to utilize remote instruction days. These instruction days would not be nontraditional instruction, or NTI, but they would be used in the event that some students or schools need it due to high transmission of the COVID-19 virus or related quarantines, Constant said.

He said the school has 20 remote instruction days to use, if needed.

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315

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