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Scholastic quoted Wichita Unified School District more than $63,000 for book sets to teach migrant children

Scholastic Education has quoted Wichita Unified School District in Kansas $63,329.00 for culturally responsive book sets that would be purchased with pandemic-era relief funds and used to educate migrant children.

Wichita Unified School District’s curriculum director said in a September 2023 email obtained by Parents Defending Education that the book sets would be “used by our immigrant students and given to teachers in the district who have our immigrant students. ” The principal asked if the district could pay for the book sets using Emergency Assistance for Elementary and Secondary Schools (ESSER) funds.

The itemized quote from Scholastic Education listed 20 culturally responsive book sets for each kindergarten through eighth grade. Each individual set, which contained up to 50 books, cost between $357.85 and $514.62.

Districts across the United States are facing challenges as they try to handle the influx of migrant children coming across the country’s southern border during the school year — after submitting staffing levels to the state education department for funding. According to a local newspaper, Massachusetts public schools have taken in 2,000 immigrants this school year. Denver Public Schools is facing a $17 million budget shortfall as it tries to educate thousands of immigrant students who entered the district midway through the school year.

Districts often provide additional services to migrant children and their families, from English language learning — required by federal law — to housing and immigration services.

Wichita Unified School District’s student population speaks 112 different languages. Attachments to a November 2023 email noted the number of English speakers of other languages ​​(ESOL) and newcomers in the district during the 2023-2024 school year. There were 3,799 elementary, 1,118 middle, and 1,239 high school ESOL students. According to the email, there were 289 newcomers in elementary school, 248 in middle school and 425 in high school.

Title I Part C of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and Title III of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) require school districts to teach immigrant students, establish English language learning programs, and monitor the progress of students’ English language acquisition. Documents attached to an August 2023 email said the district had $873,356 in “Title III – Language Education for English Learners and Immigrant Students” available during the 2022-2023 school year, and $242,550 in funds for “Title I – Education of migrant children.”

The district also leveraged federal pandemic relief funds for “accelerated professional development of all staff with recovery-oriented practices,” according to the district’s comprehensive 2021-2022 annual financial report, which was attached to an October 2023 email .

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