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Facing pressure to improve communication, Manchester Schools are hiring more bilingual staff

The Manchester School District plans to hire three more bilingual liaisons to improve communication with families who don't speak English.

The move comes amidst pressure on the district to better serve English language learners and recently arrived immigrant families, some of whom had limited in-person instruction last year and struggled to register for school this year.

In addition to interpreting between English and a parents' home language, bilingual liaisons host workshops and conduct outreach to families to help them understand the school system.

The district currently has only two Spanish-language liaisons to serve approximately 1,600 Spanish-speaking families. With the new staff positions, the district is hoping to hire additional staff to work with families who speak some of the city's most common languages other than English, like Spanish, Vietnamese, Nepali or Portuguese.

Advocates have cited low pay for bilingual liaisons as one of the reasons the district struggles to retain staff. The starting salary for liaisons has been $20 per hour, plus benefits. On Monday’s board of school committee meeting, school board members are expected to approve a starting salary increase to $25 per hour. The funding for this comes in part from federal COVID relief funds.

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.

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