BOSTON – Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker filed a supplemental budget bill today, January 29, that will provide additional education funding for districts supporting students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who have come to Massachusetts following Hurricanes Maria and Irma.
This bill fulfills the commitment made by the Baker-Polito Administration to seek additional funding for school districts that have enrolled significant numbers of evacuee students.
This bill will include $15 million in Fiscal Year 2018 supplemental local aid, which is in addition to the $15 million included in the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) budget proposal that was filed last week.
As of last week, approximately 2,400 students from Puerto Rico had enrolled in the Commonwealth’s schools.
Framingham Superintendent of Schools Bob Tremblay said in late November less than 20 students from Puerto Rico had registered to attend school in Framingham, and less than 25 students from the caribbean had registered in the district since the hurricanes.
“The Commonwealth has welcomed hundreds of families in the wake of these devastating storms and this important funding will provide crucial support for our schools,” said Governor Baker, in a media release. “Most of us cannot begin to imagine what these families have been through, and the Commonwealth will continue to provide necessary support to help our fellow Americans from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.”
“Schools across the Commonwealth have enrolled nearly 2,400 students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and our dedicated teachers and school administrators have stepped up to the plate so that these students can continue their educations with minimal disruption,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “The funding included in this bill will go to districts that have seen the largest number of enrollees, ensuring that they receive substantial state assistance as they continue supporting these students.”
“In putting together our FY19 budget proposal, we prioritized funding for the districts that took in large numbers of evacuees, and total funding of $30 million over two years will go a long way to supporting these students,” said Administration and Finance Secretary Michael J. Heffernan, in a press release. “We look forward to working with the Legislature to pass this important funding.”
The Baker-Polito Administration continues to coordinate hurricane evacuee assistance efforts across state agencies and works daily with the Commonwealth’s 22 Family Resource Centers and other Community Based Organizations/Centers to help evacuees register with FEMA for disaster benefits and provide critical case management support to individuals and families impacted by Hurricane Maria.