ROOSEVELT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Educators were meeting Monday, on Long Island to address the flood of immigrant children over-burdening some school districts. Administrators said they’ve reached crisis level and they need solutions.
“I had no friends and it was hard for me,” said one student.
“It was hard for me. I didn’t know any English,” another added.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, the Central American students at Roosevelt High School are fluent now, but well versed in the struggles as they welcomed new classmates — 230 this year — who speak little or no English.
Pursuit of the American dream is becoming something of a nightmare for Long Island school districts.
Roosevelt’s ‘English as a second language’ population is up 30 percent. Neighboring districts are making room for even more as unaccompanied minors settle on Long Island by the thousands.
“The classes are crowded, the teachers are overwhelmed because they need the resources,” parent Charlena Crouth explained.
In a catch 22, school districts are mandated to educate all children, but must stay within a tax cap.
It’s why the Roosevelt schools superintendent gathered educators and assistants to share problems and solutions.
“It has reached critical mass. The financial hit that we are taking on our budget we can’t absorb. We welcome our new students with open arms, but we need the resources,” Marnie Hazelton explained.
They invited Betty Rosa, Chancellor of the New York State Regents, to hear their plea.
“I like to look at it as a growth for a community, rather than a crisis,” she said.
“These kids deserve and have to have an education, but it shouldn’t take away from the education of everybody else. That’s why we need additional funding.. We have additional people,” board of regents member Roger Tilles said.
Ideas coming out of the gathering have yet to lead to a specific solution. Educators said that will take specific state and federal dollars — a challenging case to make on already overtaxed Long Island.
The district plans to continue to push to more the conversation out of the schools and into the legislature.