Some rural Midwest districts are seeing growing numbers of English language learners, which is having a major effect on schools. About 25% of students in the Columbus Junction, Iowa, district are ELLs, a number few would have expected in the small community, but a pork processing plant -- the area's largest employer -- has drawn many Hispanics and Burmese to the area. The school system's situation underscores how many rural districts are unprepared for increases in ELL students, experts say. However, the influx of students is helping many rural districts stay alive at a time when many are consolidating or shrinking.

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