WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Superintendent of West Springfield Schools sat down with 22News to discuss what responsibilities are left to the district when it comes to the recent enrollment of migrant students.
“I don’t know if I would call it a crisis. It’s putting a lot of pressure in a lot of different areas,” said Superintendent Stefania Raschilla.
More than 100 students, mostly Haitian, suddenly live in the West Springfield school district. “The numbers are higher, enrollment is higher. We just want to serve the students the best we can,” said Raschilla.
After they are assigned shelter by the state, the district is required to get them enrolled, sending their own team to get everyone registered… beginning their re-introduction to education.
“Our responsibility is to educate them, but in order to educate them you have to have the social emotional parts in place,” Raschilla told 22News.
Ready or not, they are required to be in school. They are added to classrooms to learn alongside their native peers and are periodically taken out for special programs to learn English or fill learning gaps. All that pressure and responsibility comes with a material cost for the district, one that isn’t easily planned for and with the current state of affairs… constantly growing.
“We have purchased a new English language learning curriculum. We purchased ESL teachers. We’ve purchased para-professionals… so there’s all these services and then there’s bussing,” said Raschilla.
Typically, the state gets a count of students each October and funds districts based on that number.
Raschilla told 22News, “The issue is we don’t know how many are coming, we don’t know what grades they are in and we don’t know when they are coming… and then they are just here.”
Additional stats funds were distributed in June and earlier this fall but the money can’t teach classes, translate or counsel students. People needed to fill those positions are scarce. All the while, these students are included in the districts’ testing results, amid increased, post-Covid scrutiny.
The West Springfield School District is taking it all in stride with an uncertain future ahead. “I don’t want to call it a crisis because we are prepared. But we need more support as we get more students,” said Raschilla.