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New Haven Register: New Haven Public Schools works to accommodate more than 600 non-native English speakers this year

Elizabeth Moore, New Haven Register

May 11, 2024 - 2 minutes

As the school year nears an end, a significant number of students continue to transfer to the city’s district. The majority of them do not speak native English.

This is the most arrivals Pedro Mendia-Landa has seen in the 15 years he has worked in the district’s central office, he said.

“I keep being surprised daily because we continue to receive them as we speak,” Mendia-Landa said “We’re pretty much screening students daily for the current year.”

Since Oct. 1, over 800 students have arrived in New Haven, according to data from Mendia-Landa. More than 600 of them are multilingual learners, meaning they do not speak enough English to ensure equal educational opportunity in a general education classroom and require additional support. Of those, 476 students came from outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Mendia-Landa said the constant arrivals and the state’s delay in accounting for them under its funding system make it difficult to provide students with all the necessary resources.

“We are going to be supporting students, but without that funding,” Mendia-Landa said.

The district’s bilingual grant from the state increased by more than 50 percent from the previous year, Mendia-Landa said. However, it is also determined by data as of Oct. 1 that does not account for the current population.

State law requires the state Department of Education to use enrollment as of Oct. 1 for funding calculations, and it is the date the federal government expects the state to use when reporting student membership data, according to a spokesperson for the state Department of Education.


Under the state’s Education Cost Sharing grant program, local districts get funding in three payments throughout the year. The first two payments, paid in October and January, are based on enrollment data from two school years ago, according to Michael Morton, deputy executive director for communications and operations for an advocacy and research nonprofit called School + State Finance Project.

Because school enrollment increases throughout the year, the April payment is based on data from the previous school year, Morton said.

“The 800-plus students that are coming in even this year are not counted in that figure, but it’s also not getting students who came in the year before,” Morton said. “It’s still missing a gap there.”

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