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NYC sends $12 million to schools serving newcomers

New York City is handing out nearly $12 million in extra funding to schools that have taken in new homeless students, officials said Monday — though the city’s budget watchdog says schools owe a lot more. .

About 7,200 students who live in temporary accommodation have enrolled in schools across the city since July 2. Many of them are migrants from South American countries seeking asylum.

City officials said Monday they will send an additional $2,000 for each homeless student who has arrived since then to schools that have enrolled at least six new students who are living in temporary housing. (The Department of Education does not collect student immigration status, so the city uses housing as a proxy for directing resources to campuses that absorb newcomers.)

The records show 369 schools will see larger budgets thanks to the new money, which can be used for additional tutoring, educational materials, after-school programs and clothing or other personal items students may need, department officials said.

“Schools are the centers of our communities, and with these funds we will ensure that our schools are fully equipped to meet the academic, emotional and social needs of our new New Yorkers,” Chancellor David Banks said in a statement. a statement.

Supporters applauded the new funding, which comes as city officials have pledged to support a wave of new immigrants who have a range of needs, to find stable housing, to access mental health services and to navigate schools that have long suffered from a shortage of staff and bilingual programs.

Still, the one-time funding comes with some limitations, including that it “cannot be used to hire full-time staff” like an additional bilingual teacher, according to budget documents, although finding additional staff can also be difficult. Schools receiving additional funding will receive an average of $31,713 this year.

City Comptroller Brad Lander says the funding is far less than the schools owe. Schools serving new immigrants should receive at least $34 million in total to account for increased enrollment under the city’s funding formula, which determines the lion’s share of school budgets, Lander said.

This “Fair Student Funding” formula gives schools a base amount per student ($4,197 this year), then adds additional dollars if a student has a disability, is still learning English, is behind in grade, or has other needs. Current English Learners receive maximum additional funding of $2,308 per child.

The Education Department should speed up the process of giving schools the per-pupil funding they are owed for students who enrolled outside of the typical admissions process, Lander says, the money he says is generally not paid into school budgets until January. (Directors can use this funding as they see fit, including to hire new employees.)

“They know what schools they’re in,” Lander said in an interview. “What’s the point in waiting until January if it’s based on a number you know today?”

Most schools have have seen their budgets shrink due to declining enrollmentforcing them to abandon staff and reduce programs in some cases. Many advocates argue that the city should add funds quickly to accommodate new immigrants, especially since many of these families have deep needs.

Department of Education officials said they have begun to do so, sending schools that have requested an additional $25 million in funding to account for new enrollments (this funding is essentially an advance payment for mid-year adjustments that occur if schools enroll a different number of students than planned) .

The $12 million that is being sent to schools enrolling at least six students in temporary housing represents entirely new funding, separate from the per-student funding formula, which means these schools will still be eligible for the same budget increases if their enrollment increased more than expected during the year. This pot of money “will be updated as needs are identified throughout the school year,” the budget documents say. City officials did not say where the money came from.

At PS 124 in Brooklyn, staff welcomed more than 30 new migrant students earlier this month, according to Lander, and the school will receive a $60,000 raise thanks to the $12 million infusion from the Department of education. Still, the comptroller argues the school owes at least $223,000 in funding per student.

The school receiving the most money from the new program is PS 143 Louis Armstrong in Queens, which offers a bilingual program and is expected to receive $194,000, suggesting the school has enrolled nearly 100 students in temporary housing since summer. At the other end of the spectrum, about 50 schools enrolled just six newcomers, receiving $12,000 each.

Also on Monday, Lander sent the Department of Education a request more data on asylum-seeking students, including the schools serving them and the city’s overall funding plan, especially if migrants continue to arrive throughout the year. Typically, school budgets aren’t routinely adjusted after Oct. 31, Lander said.

“The number of newcomer students with high needs has increased, making it even more imperative that the DOE respond to this unique challenge with a plan to provide schools with this funding now, and on an ongoing basis if the flow of applicants continues. asylum continues,” Lander wrote.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said the department is working to provide the information requested by Lander without compromising student privacy.

Alex Zimmerman is a reporter for Chalkbeat New York, covering New York’s public schools. Contact Alex at [email protected]

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