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W.Va. Governor Approves Appropriation for ELLs

West Virginia's governor, Joe Manchin III, a Democrat, signed yesterday what is believed to be the state's first-ever appropriation of funds targeting English-language learners.

The governor signed Senate Bill 1024 yesterday, which included $350,000 in funds for English-as-a-second-language programs in the state and was produced out of a special legislative session. Jane Wagner, a retired ESL teacher from the Washington area, who now resides in West Virginia and has been active in the state's affiliate organization of TESOL, said the appropriation is a first for West Virginia.

She and others have been trying to persuade West Virginia lawmakers for years to provide a separate appropriation for ELLs.

A few months ago, Gov. Manchin signed House Bill 4211, which permitted the department of education to distribute funds to school districts for ESL programs. But advocates for ELLs were disappointed that he vetoed an appropriation of $550,000 at the time that would have supported that bill. His veto message said that he wanted more time to analyze the costs associated with ESL programs, a staffer in the governor's budget office told me today.

So in the end, school districts will receive $350,000 in fiscal 2011 in this special appropriation for ESL.

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