Schools intaking migrant students need more funding


Allison Shelley, The Verbatim Agency for EDUimages | Flickr

Adriana Maria, Opinions Editor

Schools experiencing a large uptick in migrant student enrollment should receive more funds to adequately address the needs of the group.

Over the past couple of months, 19,000 immigrants have arrived in the city. 5,500 of these arrivals have been enrolled into New York City schools, causing a strain on financial and physical resources.

Comptroller Brad Lander analyzed all Department of Education schools’ budgets and estimated that at least $34 million more is needed in Fair Student funding to meet the needs of these students.

77% of DOE schools faced funding cuts due to past enrollment projections as discovered by an analysis by the comptroller’s office. The amount of money reduced from the school budget averaged around 8%, amounting to $402,456.

Only $25 million has been provided to NYC schools as of Oct. 18, according to DOE Secretary Nathaniel Styer. The DOE has chosen to not wait until the mid-year budget assortment to disperse additional funding.

Migrant students need teachers that can speak their language, counseling and practical aid, such as access to warm clothing for winter.

P.S. 33 in Chelsea is one example of an elementary school which has adapted to better serve migrant families. The school reorganized its staff, including establishing two transitional bilingual classes taught by teachers proficient in both English and Spanish.

“They’re so happy, especially working with me because they can connect with me, as we speak the same language,” Esthephani Valdez, one of the bilingual teachers, said.

This type of programming was only made possible through DOE provided funding, which the Chelsea school put toward hiring a bilingual instructor.

However, other schools have not been given the same tools as P.S. 33 to set up systems for migrant students.

The New York Post reported that schools in District 3, which contains areas from the Upper West Side to Morningside Heights and parts of Harlem, have not received any additional funding.

The $25 million allocated to meet the needs of migrants are insufficient to fully accommodate incoming migrant students throughout all boroughs. Even the $34 million requested by Lander should be regarded as a minimum.

The comptroller’s office estimated that there should be an additional $10 million in funding allocated to Pre-K programs alone, as well as $5 million to accommodate migrant students with disabilities.

Furthermore, the Adams Administration should restore budget cuts enacted in prior years due to enrollment declines. According to the New York Times, 120,000 families have left the school system in the previous five years, with the majority of these losses occurring during the pandemic.

This decline in enrollment can also be attributed to unmanageably large class sizes resulting from staff shortages and a lack of enrichment programs. Recent budget cuts are further eliminating art programs, staff positions, field trips and enrichment, according to the Gothamist.

Teachers and parents are pursuing a lawsuit against the budget reductions on the grounds that it is a violation of state law.