The Consolidated School District of New Britain is anticipating an influx of students from the Caribbean following Hurricane Maria.
Over the last week, the district had six new students from Puerto Rico, two from the U.S. Virgin Islands and one from Florida. They all relocated to temporarily stay with family members in New Britain.
“To not open our doors would be doing a disservice to our families. They matter. Our families matter, our students matter,” said Superintendent Nancy Sarra.
But as much as the school district is happy to accommodate new students, the superintendent is concerned about having enough space and enough resources, especially at a time when the state is facing a financial crisis.
That is why the district is reaching out to organizations like FEMA to ask for help. The district is also requesting a sit down with the Connecticut Commissioner of Education to ask what the state’s plan is when it comes to helping refugee families.
In the meantime, the district plans to set up a welcoming center for families in downtown New Britain at the Institute for Technology and Business Development. Central Connecticut State University is offering space in the building rent-free for four months. Families will be able to connect with the school district and other community programs that may be of service.
Several parents of children already in New Britain schools are commending district leaders on their efforts to ease the transition.
“I think that’s a good idea because they should keep studying and doing schoolwork,” said Awilda Ramos of New Britain.
“We’re all for that,” said Peter Figueroa of New Britain. “If the district is going to do that, praise this city. New Britain is a great city to live in, this is why I live here.”