Colorado Schools Get Additional $24M In Funding For Increased Migrant Enrollment

FILE - Migrants wait to be processed by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol after they crossed the Rio Grande and entered the U.S. from Mexico, Oct. 19, 2023, in Eagle Pass, Texas. A recent decline in arrests for illegal crossings on the U.S. border with Mexico may prove only temporary. The drop in January reflects how numbers ebb and flow, and the reason usually goes beyond any single factor. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, FILE)

Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) signed a bill Thursday that would give public and charter schools affected by the recent rise of undocumented migrant students enrolling in them a one-time $24 million boost from the state education fund.

The Colorado Department of Education will determine how much school districts receive using a multitiered funding model that’s based on how many new students enrolled following an annual October headcount that sets each district’s state funding.

“Schools are scrambling to ensure that they have the funds to be able to support both our new students and the needs that they have with paraprofessionals, folks who can help with English language acquisition and all of the wraparound services that they need, as well as supporting all of the students who were already in our schools and as we face some overcrowding of classrooms,” Denver Rep. Emily Sirota, a Democrat, said during the bill-signing ceremony.

Sirota, who sponsored the legislation, called the unprecedented situation of asylum-seekers overwhelming city and state resources “quite substantial and unusual in terms of scope.”

By law, public schools are required to enroll minors regardless of immigration status.

“It is our obligation still to make sure everybody entering our public schools is getting an education,” Sirota said. “There is more need for more paraprofessionals, more teachers, more English language services, more wraparound services.”

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