Cost of Migrant ESL Programs

As the migrant crisis at the southern border continues, the impact is felt throughout the United States. Cities such as New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia have been the recipients of unexpected busloads of asylum seekers.  Texas Governor Abbott has vowed to off load the overwhelming influx of border crossers by exporting them to sanctuary cities. Those cities are deemed to be hospitable to undocumented persons. 

Initially, New York City Mayor Eric Adams warmed to the new comers. However, within less than six months, without a pause in bus transports, the city became inundated with thousands of seekers needing shelter, food and medical care. Eventually, New York City ran out of space and good will. 

Last week, Adams took a desperate radical turn by sending bus loads of migrants to outlying suburbs and nearby counties.  Yonkers, NY, the most populous city in Westchester County became a destination. Yonkers and the Bronx share a common border. They also share common concerns such as a shortage of affordable housing, crime, and now a potentially homeless group of people. 

Hundreds of migrants have arrived. They are single men. They are families. As the City of Yonkers scrambles to find the resources to support the new residents, the Yonkers School system is particularly vulnerable.  

Yonkers School Chancellor Edwin Quezada stated that the district is ready to help migrant children:

"They have bilingual counselors and psychologists who can provide emotional support and educators who know how to work with children who have had their education interrupted."
Yet, statistics would point to the contrary. 
There are 25,000 students enrolled in the Yonkers public school system. There is an excess of 4,000 students creating overcrowding.   Included in that number are 3,300 ESL students. That calculates to approximately 8% of the Yonkers Public school student population. It is seen as an improvement. In 2014, 12% of Yonkers students were in need of ESL classes. 
Although the numbers are down, the need for ESL teachers has increased.  There are 66 ESL teachers in the Yonkers Public school system That constitutes a shortage.  As more non English speaking students arrive, what will that mean for schools in the Y.O?
To begin with, there will be a need for more funding. Historically, a portion of those funds will be derived from Yonkers tax payers. The town of Port Chester, NY is an example. 
Port Chester, NY is a twenty five minute drive east of Yonkers. Seventeen miles away and smaller. The student population is 4,692. There are 1,300 students enrolled in ESL classes.  That equals approximately twenty five percent of the student population. Although the ESL number is double that of Yonkers, the revenue source to fund the program is the same. The tax payers bear the load. As a result, the town of Rye, which borders Port Chester, has a lower tax rate. There are 3084 students enrolled in the Rye school district. There are 222 ESL students registered in their program. 
In 2021, the Rye tax rate was set at $10.22 per $1,000 of assessed value.  The tax rate for Port Chester, a less affluent town, is $19.85 per thousand.  The Yonkers tax rate is $20.81 per thousand dollars. 
Property taxes are often determined at a county government level, and help pay for services such as sewer, water, schools, parks, street improvements and other things that state taxes don't pay for. The difference in property tax for each town is a result of many of those variables. 
However, it remains that a common denominator is how much each town must spend on their school system. An increase in the Yonkers migrant population will require additional funds to help students and their families. More ESL teachers and school psychologists will have to be hired.  The question is will financial assistance come from the federal government or will Yonkers tax payers be forced to pay up. 


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