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School population diversifying

May 16, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

The Washington County Board of Education and the county's state delegation discussed Tuesday the effects of growth on the county's school system.

Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, said the county is moving from a manufacturing and farming community to one that needs to value education more in the future.

"I think that convincing more and more of the citizens of the county how important education is going to be for their kids' futures is becoming more and more important," he said. "We need more kids going to college. More people need to be convinced of the value of education to move us into the future."

Both sides also discussed the importance of the skilled trades for students and the community.

Growth in the county also has brought an influx of students to the school system who do not speak English, officials said. About 120 additional students who do not speak English have entered the school system in the past several years, and at least two teachers have been hired specifically for those students, said Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education JoEtta Palkovitz-Brown.

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Those two teachers likely cost the school system $60,000 to $65,000 each, according to Chief Financial Officer Chris South.

Officials said many of those students are brought to the area through a refugee resettlement organization called the Virginia Council of Churches.

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