Clark County Missed $2 Million In Federal Funds, Officials Say

The Clark County School District lost $2 million in funding because a federal survey underestimated the number of Nevada students whose primary language isn't English, local and state education officials said.

The Las Vegas-based district will receive slightly more than $4.4 million from the federal government this school year, down from $6.4 million last school year, officials said.

The state as a whole will lose an additional $800,000 in anticipated funds for ELL students, or $2.8 million total, state Superintendent Keith Rheault said.

District Superintendent Walt Rulffes said the loss of funding will hurt Hispanic students, and officials said it might affect district test scores.

Rulffes called a firm grasp of the English language vital for students because the tests are given in English.

A district official said the number of specialists who train teachers for the English Language Learner program, or ELL, will remain the same as last year despite district growth.

During the 2006-07 school year, 157 specialists trained about 13,000 of the district's 18,000 teachers, said Nancy Alamo, the district's ELL director.

Since the district began receiving federal funding in the 2003-04 school year, its staff of specialists has increased to 157 from 58.

Alamo said the district may be unable to purchase some instructional materials including textbooks or software programs to supplement the students' core curriculum.

The U.S. Department of Education relied on the American Community Survey taken by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2005 to determine the amount of funding Nevada should receive for ELL students.

The survey concluded that Nevada's population of students whose primary language isn't English was decreasing.

But the Clark County School District and Nevada dispute those findings.

The district, with more than 300,000 students, has about 70 percent of Nevada's students.

Alamo said it has more than 60,000 non-English speaking students, and the number has grown by an average of 10 percent each year during the past decade.

According to the Nevada Department of Education, the total number of ELL students in Nevada is about 75,000.


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