The Reynoldsburg Board of Education took steps to ensure district documents and proceedings continue to be communicated in a language that parents can best understand.
At its July 16 meeting, the school board approved five district staff members -- Angie Bello, Kathleen Brownley, Pablo Chignolli, Mawdo Fall and Jacqueline Donley -- as available "in-house" interpreters at a rate of $26.04 per hour during the 2019-20 school year.
All five staff members are foreign-language teachers and/or ESL teachers in the district, at different buildings. The stipend would be in addition to their teacher salaries. As has been the case the past few years, these teachers would be used for planned events, such as evening parent/teacher conferences.
The board also approved contracts with US Together Interpreting Services and Asian American Community Services for interpretation services on an as-needed basis. Those contracts allow for services on short-notice or emergency basis and cost between $30 to $40 per hour.
This service would be used for urgent situations during school hours, such as a student becoming ill and needing to contact a parent or guardian.
"We try to make sure we are as accommodating as we can be because we have so many students with this need," said Jocelyn Cosgrave, the district's chief academic officer.
More than 850 students -- or about 11% of the district -- are of Asian descent, with the majority of those students being Nepali, district spokesperson Valerie Wunder said.
The district estimates there are more than 40 languages spoken by Reynoldsburg students.
"We probably have over 900 families who require an interpreter when communicating with our schools. Any family who states they need an interpreter on enrollment paperwork is contacted via an interpreter for communication," Wunder said.
Extra interpreters usually are needed during certain times of the year like during enrollment, or for special events like open houses and parent/teacher conferences, officials said.
The district spent about $23,000 last school year on outside translation services, Wunder said.
In other business, the board:
* Approved a $100,500 contract with Instructure, Inc. for a three-year contract for educational software licenses.
* Approved a $73,165 contract for the 2019-20 school year for districtwide services with Newslea, a reading engagement and instruction platform.
* Approved a $45,000 renovation of the Life Skills Lab at the Reynoldsburg High School Summit Road campus.
* Approved a $28,250 contract for the 2019-20 school year with NWEA for math, reading and language testing services.
* Approved school handbooks and the student code of conduct for the 2019-20 school year.
The next school board meeting is 6:30 p.m. Aug. 20 at City Hall, 7232 E. Main St.