The teaching challenge is huge — between Guatemalan, Honduran, Karen and Somali refugees, explained Schmitz, there are dozens of students in the high school who have had very little schooling, and none in English. They are known by the acronym Slife, for Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education. And recently many minors have arrived from Central America without parents and are living with relatives or family friends.
To ease their way, Schmitz said, Spanish-speaking and Somali-speaking cultural liaisons work with teachers, students and parents, so families can learn how to advocate for their kids, what the rules are and just how the local culture works. (The Somali liaison is a graduate of the high school.) Some students take seven years to get though grades nine to 12.
And for those who still can’t graduate by age 21, said Schmitz, “we work with them on job placement — what could you do in this community to help you support your family.” Willmar Goodwill Industries created a full-time position that helps find employment for students with disabilities and those aging out of high school without a degree.
Willmar spent $57,572,869 for 4,244 students during the 2018-2019 school year, about $13,562 per student. Madison spends 33% to 50% more, depending on the published numbers one uses….