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RCSD welcomes nearly 600 students from Puerto Rico

August 25, 2018 06:30 PM

With the new school year now just days away Rochester school leaders say they're trying to be ready for hundreds of new students from Puerto Rico.

Since September families from Puerto Rico have been enrolling into the district.

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Now there are nearly 600 new students here.

The need drove district officials to open the Bilingual Academy, though facing a nearly $65 million budget gap, concerns have grown over how the district pay for this.

Jacqueline Colon Baez lost everything after Hurricane Maria then moved to Rochester.

Her 13-year-old daughter will be starting in the city school district.

News10NBC spoke to Baez through a translator.

"This is a new beginning for me especially because my daughter requires extra services and we have been treated very well," Baez explained.

Baez and other parents attended the bilingual parent summit to understand how the district can meet their needs.

Abel Perez, the Executive Director of the bilingual department says this will cost a lot of money.

"We have to consider the cost to educate these students but at the same time we also have to consider the resources they are bringing with them," said Perez.

The Federal Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 sets aside hurricane education recovery funds.

The budget allows for $9,000 per child who doesn't speak English and another thousand for students with special needs.

New York state spends more than $20,000 to educate every public school student, so are these additional funds enough?

Beatriz LeBron, the Rochester City School District school board commissioner said, "It's never a sufficient amount but I'm grateful we even got that amount in the first place considering the circumstances."

LeBron says the additional resources helped fund the bilingual academy on Hart Street.

In terms of teachers for these students it's no secret the district has struggled to recruit bilingual teachers.

If they can't meet the needs of the students district officials will call in retirees until they hire new teachers. School starts September 5.
    

WHECTV

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