Pascagoula spends nearly half a million dollars educating non-English speaking students

Pascagoula, MS (WLOX)-Sandra Trinidad's lesson is about subject verb agreement today. The Middle School student is from the Dominican Republic and she admits English is not her strongest subject.

"Sometimes I don't understand, and they (teachers)read to me and they help me," Trinidad said.

Trinidad is one of 609 students from other countries learning reading, writing, and arithmetic through the Pascagoula School District's English Language Learner's Program. Superintendent Wayne Rodolfich says a combination of federal and district money helps fund it.

"We are going to budget and be fair with everyone," Superintendent Wayne Rodolfich said.

He says being fair means spending money for hundreds of special books, computers, software and hiring a staff of teachers to target students needs.

"They have to pass the state mandated exit exam, and we try to help the children to catch up to where our children are."

In 2007, the school district spent $ 400 thousand educating the diverse group of kids, this year it's $ 60 thousand more. Superintendent Rodolfich expects that number grow as more people migrate to the coast.

"It is never too much when you're helping children to be assimilated into our culture."

He says as it looks right now the weak economy is not going to weaken this educational program.

"We have some very resourceful and talented people who work in our federal programs department, and they are always out there finding money to support every child in the school district."

That's good news to the 609 students getting an American Education.