Northside Middle School student Aryela Hernandez, left, listens as English Language facilitator Raquel Contreras, right, gives instructions for a vocabulary exercise during an English Language Learners class at Northside Middle School in Columbus, Ind., Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017. Mike Wolanin | The Republic

Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. has responded well to a growing influx of Hispanic students who are not fluent in English.

In 12 years time, the number of Hispanic students in the Bartholomew Consolidated school district has risen from 4.7 percent of the total school district enrollment (512 students) in the 2005-2006 school year to 14.3 percent (1,659 students) in the 2016-2017 school year — more than triple.

With that influx, the non-white population of Bartholomew Consolidated enrollment today has risen to 27.4 percent.

What that means is that Bartholomew Consolidated has many students for whom English is not their first language. That’s why the district’s English Language Learners program is vitally important.

It has been in existence for 10 years and now services 1,500 students across the district’s 16 schools and McDowell Adult Education Center. The school district includes students whose primary language at home is among 57 that are not English.

Twelve English Language teachers are employed by the district to help these students become more fluent in English. Like all other classes in Bartholomew Consolidated and other students, the English Language Learners students go to school to learn — and for a significant number, it means learning how to converse in English, a life-changing opportunity. That puts English Language Learner students on a level playing field with all BCSC students, just as it should be.