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Revised guidebook for Manchester school district's English Learner program unveiled

MANCHESTER - After nearly six months, the school board's Coordination Committee on Monday approved a guidebook for the district's English Learner (EL) program, but not before the superintendent made last-minute changes.

The guidebook has been mired in controversy, primarily due to proposed changes in how EL students are taught at the high-school level. An immigrant advocacy group, along with the district's former EL director, had pushed for shifting to a "push-in" program, in which the goal is to move students into regular classes. Currently most EL high school students are taught in a separate program at Central High.

Teachers in the Central program and a couple school board members have resisted those changes.

Superintendent Thomas Brennan presented a new version copy of the handbook on Tuesday that had been revised from the one distributed to the committee last week.

"What we have here is the best representation of what we need for the school district to be in compliance with the laws of the state and federal government," Brennan said.

The vote was 5-2, with committee members Deb Gagnon Langton and Art Beaudry opposed. The full Board of School Committee is expected to vote on the plan at its next meeting.

Looking to hire

The Coordination Committee also sent to the full board a job description to hire an in-house attorney.

The board voted make the move after the district acknowledged that legal costs for outside attorneys this year will exceed $350,000, due largely to the investigation of the former principal at Manchester High School West.

The attorney will be responsible for providing legal counsel and representation to the superintendent, the staff and the school board on district matters, according to the page-long description.

The salary range for the position will be $125,000-$145,000.


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