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Districts receive money for displaced students

Districts receive money for displaced students

Hurricane in Puerto Rico led to influx here

CAPITAL REGION -- School districts across the state on Thursday received funding for the work they did to support an influx of students from Puerto Rico and other places in the wake of natural disasters last year.

Schenectady and Amsterdam school districts, which each took in more than 50 displaced students last year, including dozens who had fled Puerto Rico after a devastating hurricane, received the largest share of funding of any Capital Region districts – about $250,000 each.

Niskayuna, Saratoga Springs, North Colonie and South Colonie school districts, which all served about a half-dozen displaced students, also received funding. So did Stillwater schools, which served two displaced students, and Cobleskill-Richmondville schools, which served one displaced student.

The districts received up to $10,000 for each displaced student, depending on the student’s needs and how long they attended school in the district. The funding, part of a federal program aimed at supporting students displaced by natural disasters, serves as reimbursements for services the districts provided students last year.

“Every little bit helps,” Niskayuna Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra Jr. said of the district’s $24,000 reimbursement, which he said he hadn’t been expecting.

In Amsterdam schools, dozens of new students came to the district after leaving Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Many of the students came with little to no records of their previous schooling and limited English skills. They also had to contend with an upstate New York winter after living on a tropical island.

Amsterdam responded to the influx by pairing the students with classroom buddies – oftentimes fellow Spanish-speaking students who could relate to the transplants – and boosting specialized language classes for the students.

“These kids have been uprooted from what they know as normalcy and are coming to a place with a foreign language and foreign customs and are unprepared,” Alex Torres, a Scotia-based Latin musician who also freelances as a translator for Schenectady schools, said during the winter.

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