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A growing number of Spanish-speaking students in the New Castle Area School District has prompted the school board to hire more translators.

The board at its public work session last week discussed the hirings without names. At Monday’s regular board meeting, they voted 9-0 to hire three translators at a pay of $15 per hour, 7 hours per day.

Board member Tracy Rankin did not attend the meeting but participated and voted by phone.

The three hirees are Ana Acosta, and Carmen Dickens and her daughter, Yadira Dickens.

Superintendent Debbie DeBlasio said the women are fluent in speaking Spanish and they also speak Spanish dialects. The district also has one English as a second language teacher in each of its three buildings — Lockley Early Learning Center, George Washington Intermediate School and New Castle Junior/Senior High School, and it now has five interpreters.

The district has seen a growing number of families moving into the New Castle area from Puerto Rico since their island was decimated by hurricanes a few years ago.

Currently, the district has 87 students enrolled who speak other languages, and all of them are Hispanic except for one Chinese student, who has access to the language line and is somewhat bilingual, John Mozzocio, the district’s special program supervisor, explained.

Of those children needing help with learning English, 19 students are in grades 9-12; 13 are in grades 6 through 8; 21 are at George Washington Intermediate School and 34 are at Harry W. Lockley.

“The numbers change every day,” said Mozzocio. He estimated that about 21 percent of those are special needs students.

The majority of the Spanish-speaking children are from Puerto Rico, but the district also has two from Guatemala and one from Honduras, he said.

“We’re going to continue to work to make sure everybody gets a quality education,” he said.

dwachter@ncnewsonline.com

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Debbie's been a journalist at the New Castle News since 1978, and covers county government, police and fire, New Castle schools, environment and various other realms. She also writes features, takes photos and video and copy edits.

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