Rotterdam schools prepare for 70 school-age migrant children

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Mohonasen schools are preparing for 70 school-age children who speak three or four different languages.

School Superintendent Shannon Shine says Tuesday they had a welcome, registration, and language screening event at which they registered 55 children, so far. They’re planning to have another one Thursday.

“We actually had a heartwarming outpouring of volunteers and support because we have to administer an English language assessment called the NYSITELL, so I needed ENL teachers to do that. I think NYSUT, the state teachers union, put out a call, and we had people show up,” Shine said.

They also passed along some of the donations collected for the migrants, including clothes and toys.

The school is hiring two English as a New Language (ENL) teachers.

Superintendent Shine does expect some financial help down the line.

“In the short term, we can handle a short term blip, as long as money comes later. But it is a concern to folks, that, hey, why should we suddenly be footing this bill, so the state does need to kick in. And they may well do that. It’s so new to everybody. I can’t really say, ‘Oh, the state’s not doing this yet. I think this is hitting them just as fast as it’s hitting us.'”

He says the school is able to absorb the new students. The number of English language learners for their program will about double.

“It’s a little more elementary level heavy than it is secondary,” said the superintendent. “But again, yes, we can do this. I just wish we had a little more time and more planning up front, and more information. Yet, like with anything, you play the hand you’re dealt and we’ll do it the best as we possibly can.”

The district has 65 children speaking Spanish, three speaking Chinese, and some speaking Haitian Creole or French, the superintendent said.