Local school districts getting aid for Puerto Rico hurricane evacuees

(Western Mass News photo)

Some school districts in western Massachusetts that accepted students from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria will be receiving additional money starting next week.

Springfield, Holyoke, and Chicopee were three of the biggest districts to receive money.

However, what's next? and where is this money expected to go?

Nearly seven months after Hurricane Maria, students from Puerto Rico continue to enroll in school districts across the state.

Springfield, Holyoke, and Chicopee are seeing the highest numbers in western Massachusetts.

"We welcome these funds, these are amazing," said Nelson Roman with Nueva Esperanza.

In February, the legislature approved $15 million of additional funding to school districts.

The money will be distributed in two installments. The first will be next week and the second will be sometime in June as schools prepare for the 2018-2019 school year.

Nueva Esperanza, a non-profit in Holyoke, has been helping welcome families to the city. The organization will be helping the school system this summer.

"They're piloting an ESL summer program for eighth and ninth grade students and we, at Nueva Esperanza, are going to be partnering with them, running a whole summer learning program in their native tongue to really get them prepared for the fall...going into high school," Roman noted.

Holyoke Public Schools told Western Mass News that they have registered 238 students from Puerto Rico - 172 remain active, so 66 students have withdrawn to attend other districts or go back to the island.

"Without this cash, right now, we would've had to wait another fiscal year to receive the state aid to serve the students, so this is definitely a good thing," said Ileana Cintron with Holyoke Public Schools.

Holyoke Public Schools told us the district will be using the added funds will help with: Additional teachers Additional ESL services for students Additional Spanish language materials "We didn't expect the hurricanes to hit Puerto Rico and as soon as it hit, we knew were going to receive an influx of families," Cintron explained.

Springfield and Chicopee are two other cities receiving state funding in western Massachusetts.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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