The Wichita school district received $366,000 to support its refugee students from war-torn countries such as Somalia, Myanmar, Rwanda and others. On Monday, Gov. Sam Brownback and a council of legislators approved the sum, which is close to one-third of the amount the district initially requested.
Refugee students who have been relocated to the district often arrive with emotional trauma and are unable to speak English.
The district’s initial request of $980,000 demonstrates the severe need to hire specialists who are able not only to teach the students English, but also to provide the emotional support that the students need.
As of Sep. 2014, 132 refugee students were enrolled in the Wichita school district. This number was used in determining the current block grant funding, but an additional 922 refugee students have enrolled in the district since then, creating a larger need for resources.
District officials have estimated the arrival of another 145 refugee students by the conclusion of this academic year, but the approved budget supports only the 92 students who have enrolled in the district since last year.
The state’s Department of Education did not apply for federal assistance in funding the education of this year’s refugee students. Reapplication will not be available until next summer.
Roughly $4 million was appointed by the council of legislators in extraordinary need aid funding to 26 districts. These funds will contribute to a variety of improvements, like varying property values and increases in enrollment that have affected local tax revenue.
The fund consists of a fraction of each of the districts’ individual budgets and is intended to cover unexpected expense increases.
According to the governor’s office, the fund holds $2.9 million for expenses that may occur in the remainder of the current fiscal year.