|credit: NY Times |
Below I describe my visit to a school that has accepted about 50 migrant students with open arms, but doesn’t have the funding necessary to fully meet their needs. I was quoted in the NY Post as saying it is both irrational and irresponsible for DOE deny these schools with additional funding, and instead to rely on volunteer efforts by parents and other students. No child should have to translate for her classmates as this child at another school has been asked to do, according to her interview on NY 1: “If they have work and I have work, I have to do my work too,” she said. “I’m not a grownup yet, but I wish I could be and help them a lot. But I’m not a grown up yet.”
Currently, the DOE spokesperson insists that they have provided $25 million more to schools with enrollments larger than originally projected; however it's not clear if this pertains specifically to the schools that have seen large numbers of migrant students, who have special needs over and above simply enrollment increase.
Comptroller Brad Lander has estimated that given an estimate of 5,500 migrant students, their schools should receive at least $34 million according to the Fair Student Funding system alone; not counting extra funding for 3K, PreK or other additional needs that these students may have. And the latest estimates for the number of these students keeps increasing, and is now up to 6,100 .
The school I visited hasn't received an extra penny, and the principal was told that she would have to wait until November or beyond, for the standard mid-year adjustment to their budget.
When asked when these schools with large numbers of migrant students would receive more funding, Chancellor Banks said at the CPAC meeting this week, and again at a D75 Town Hall meeting, that they were waiting for federal government to kick in with more aid. Here's the exact quote from the Chancellor at CPAC meeting.
“You might want to be as helpful as possible but if you don't have the dollars I think the sense here is that the federal government will at some point is going to come and provide a level of support um you've got midterm elections that are happening over the next couple of weeks so that's a lot of this is political as well in terms of when the aid and the support will come but I think I think here in New York the leadership feels as though the federal government is not going to abandon us here.”
However, the DOE still has over more than four billion dollars of unspent federal Covid aid, and an $8 billion reserve fund, so the idea that they couldn't front the money to schools before the feds provide more dollars is absurd. The account of my visit to this school follows.
If your school has enrolled significant numbers of new migrant students and has gotten more funding to support these students, or has not received this funding despite the need, please let us know at email@example.com
A few weeks ago I visited a Title One school that has enrolled
about 50 migrant students from several different countries over the past few weeks. The school has gone from 86% utilization to over 104%.
Last year, most classes were under 20 students per class;
now class sizes have grown, and all the Kindergartens are at 25 – the maximum according
to the UFT contract. Some of the
inclusion classes are now as large as 27 and 30 students per class.
The principal recounted how she lost several teachers due
to the budget cuts this year; and also has been unable to replace several
teachers who resigned or who were unwilling
to be vaccinated.
She has asked DOE for more funding given the enrollment
increase and the high level of need of these students, with families are housed
at a hotel nearby. Many of the migrant
students traveled 2-3 months through Central America/Mexico to get here. Many were bused from Texas without their consent. Others are escaping war zones.
If she received more funding, the principal said she
would hire more teachers, as well as a Spanish-speaking bilingual social worker and Spanish-speaking bilingual counselor. She also
needs more funding to pay for iPads; the new families with two students have had
to share a single iPad because she doesn’t have enough.
DOE has told her that she will receive no
more funding until at least November.
The after school program is filled to capacity; and while the
principal has asked YMCA and DOE for 60 more slots but this request was also denied.
The school is in a co-located building, and because of the overcrowding, the library has been turned into a room for OT/PT/specialists with makeshift partitions. Still we saw children receiving their services in the hallway.
The Parent coordinator shares a small room – formerly a storage space w/no windows -- with the safety coordinator and other personnel. Another room that was a classroom/TV studio now houses their school psychologist, counselor, and social worker, who lost their office space when a 3K was added to the school last year.
The parents and staff at the school have been wonderful; Parents
have brought bags of school supplies and clothes for the new families. Teachers have volunteered to do their laundry
by taking it home with them weekly. The principal has also tried to set up OSHA training for the families
in an effort to help them secure employment but is encountering many obstacles
in the process. They desperately need
jobs as they are receiving no cash assistance from the city.