Student Diversity, Dollars Are Top Issues at Public Schools

Article excerpt

Byline: Madhu Krishnamurthy Daily Herald Staff Writer

An increasingly diverse ethnic population is presenting a challenge for Mundelein area school districts, as school leaders say they need to diversify their approach to education.

Schools are offering more languages, special student services and staff training to increase cultural awareness.

"Our diversity is under study right now," Superintendent Ray Partridge of Mundelein Elementary District 75 said.

Last school year, the district's student population was about 34 percent minorities, of which 24 percent were Hispanic.

The district is anticipating 2,260 students this year and is offering staff training in multicultural awareness and the effects of poverty on achievement.

"The demographics are changing in our schools and we want the teachers to be able to handle the diversity in their classrooms," Partridge said.

The district's educational foundation will pay full tuition for teachers who want to learn Spanish or take English-as-a-second- language classes. The foundation also will support teachers who take classes on working with second language learners in the classroom.

Neighboring Fremont Elementary District 79 over the last three years has experienced an upsurge in student population.

"We have some diversity, but not as diverse as Mundelein itself," Superintendent Rick Taylor said, adding that as the district is further developed the diversity will follow.

After an unsuccessful attempt to pass a 20-cent education fund tax rate increase in April, the district is trying again in November. …