WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The state’s migrants crisis is affecting many schools that are scrambling to staff up in preparation for new and unexpected students this fall. 22News spoke to school systems in districts that are experiencing an influx of migrants about how they are working to meet the specific needs of these new students.

Governor Maura Healey declared a state of emergency Tuesday for the growing influx of migrants burdening a shelter system that she says is reaching it’s capacity. Here in western Massachusetts, communities such as West Springfield, Chicopee and Greenfield have hotels sheltering these families, who are looking to enroll their children in the school system this fall.

School administrators say these students have specific needs and as a result, they have had to hire additional staff, like English language teachers and counselors, and any money they have received from the state falls short.

“The funds that we’ve received compared to the students and their needs is not enough,” said West Springfield Superintendent Stefania Raschilla.

The superintendent added she hopes the state of emergency can help these families find employment and provide additional funds for student transportation. West Springfield enrolled 25 new students at the Clarion Hotel Tuesday.

22News spoke to a homeless woman who also lives at the Clarion Hotel. Her children went through the same enrollment process as these migrant families experienced, “The community actually got together with the school system and we were able to make an accommodation for them to actually come here and help us enroll our children in school, which made an easier process for the residents in the surrounding community.”

Carol Kruser, Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Services in Chicopee, says they, too, have had to bulk up on staff. She adds the future makes her nervous.

“How many more are going to be here, how that is going to affect the budget, what do we need to help them out? So, there’s a lot of unknowns and we want to make sure we are as prepared as possible for every eventual family to make sure that they have what they need,” said Kruser.

The Chicopee school system is still looking for additional English language teachers and is still hiring if you are interested.

Local News

Alanna Flood is a reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since 2022. Follow Alanna on X @alannafloodnews and view her bio to see more of her work.