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Colorado lawmakers to consider giving school districts extra funding for migrant students

Districts across the state have seen an influx of migrant students since October
dps denver public schools
Posted at 5:15 PM, Feb 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-15 20:59:52-05

DENVER — State lawmakers are considering giving extra funding to Colorado public school districts that are dealing with an influx of migrant students.

As more migrants move to Colorado, schools across the state are struggling to keep up. The influx of migrant students has led not only to larger class sizes, it’s also taken a toll on district budgets.

The number of migrant students who’ve enrolled in Denver Public Schools since last summer is greater than the entire population of many Colorado communities.

“Since the beginning of July, which is the beginning of our school year, we have seen over 3,400 kids join Denver Public Schools that are new to the country,” said Scott Pribble, the director of external communications for DPS. “They’ve never been in the United States before.”

Pribble said the number of migrant students enrolling in the district has picked up in recent weeks.

Data from the district backs those claims. DPS school board documents show 200 to 250 migrant students are now enrolling in the district each week. Most of the migrant students at DPS enrolled after the official count date in October.

That day is important because it helps determine how much funding districts receive.

“Whatever you have in your school buildings on that day is what you receive credit for,” Pribble said. “Since we have about 2,000 kids that have arrived after that date, we have not received funding for that.”

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It’s not just DPS.

State Rep. Emily Sirota, D-Denver, said she and her colleagues have been hearing from many districts across the state that have seen an influx of migrant students since the October count.

“They have come to us and said, ‘Please help,’” said Sirota.

She’s now proposing a plan to do just that.

“Because local share from property taxes has come in higher than anticipated, we are able to retain $24 million in the state education fund,” said Sirota.

She wants to give that money to school districts to help them with the migrant student influx.

“The actual amount would be dependent upon the number of students that they verify they've got,” said Sirota.

Some districts, like DPS, would still be short of the money they’d normally receive based on their enrollment numbers.

But some help is better than none.

“Obviously, not as much as they would normally provide at the October count, but we're appreciative of the effort and the extra money to help support this,” Pribble said.

Sirota has requested the Joint Budget Committee draft legislation to get the ball rolling an believes there will be bipartisan support.

“There's bipartisan support to ensure that we're supporting our school districts, our students, our teachers, our families,” Sirota said.


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