$10.6M for students displaced by disasters
Nearly 50 Connecticut towns will benefit from a wave of funding for schools that took in students displaced by last year’s natural disasters.
Connecticut earned $10.6 million of the $359.8 million the U.S. Department of Education gave to 20 states and the Virgin Islands to cover the cost to educate students who were displaced by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, as well as the 2017 California wildfires.
The money is meant to reimburse the districts for what they spent on these students last academic year.
“The impact of natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires goes beyond the disaster area” Betsy DeVos, U.S. secretary of education, said in a statement. “The effects are felt nationwide, especially in those communities that take in displaced students and families. This additional funding will ensure schools serving displaced students are able to meet their unique needs under such difficult circumstances.”
The state Department of Education dispersed the money based on the number of displaced students in the districts, with the bulk of funding going toward bigger cities.
Hartford received the largest grant of $2.22 million, with New Haven receiving $1 million, Bridgeport $790,000, Stamford $96,600, Norwalk collecting $65,000 and Stratford $60,000.
In Danbury, the district recieved $9,250, less than Superintendent Sal Pascarella had expected. He said the district had about 20 students who came in and out of the schools last year, but the Department of Education only considered students who stayed.
“They didn’t count them as permanent, which was kind of disappointing to me,” he said.
Pascarella said some of these students could return this year, too, but estimated six to seven kids have remained in the district.
He said the district already paid the bills for any extra costs from the students, but that it would put this money in the salary budget for this year.
“The impact would have been in salaries, so that’s the most logical place to put it,” Pascarella said.
Meanwhile, Brookfield earned $9,750, slightly more than Danbury.
“We welcome these students,” said Christine Sipala, director of special education. “The funds will be used to support those students.”
In Bethel, the district received $4,500 for the two students it took in.
Christine Carver, superintendent in Bethel, plans to use the money for its program for English learners, a population that is growing in the district.
“We’ve seen an increase in our English learner students, so any types of resources we could purchase for them would be wonderful,” she said.