English language learners, special education students increase in South Portland
SOUTH PORTLAND — The number of students who are homeless or qualify for free or reduced-price meals is down this year, along with overall enrollment, Superintendent Ken Kunin reported Monday to city councilors and school board members.
Meanwhile, the number of students who are learning to speak English or qualify for special education programs has increased, Kunin said in his State of the Schools 2017-18 presentation.
The district has 289 English-language learners this year – about double the number in 2012 and about 10 percent of the overall 2,995 student population. Statewide, ELL students represent 3 percent of the overall school population, with concentrations in Portland, Lewiston, Westbrook, South Portland and Auburn, Kunin said.
“Our ethnic diversity remains four times greater than that of the state of Maine as a whole, providing our students considerable opportunities that we believe are essential for preparing them for an ever-evolving world,” Kunin said.