School districts across the Sunshine State will receive $95.8 million in federal funding as reimbursement for enrolling students from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands displaced by hurricanes.
The initiative, spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Winter Park, will include funds for local schools coping with a swell of newly enrolled students, some of whom are dealing with language barriers, and will particularly benefit Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties, according to a statement from Murphy's office.
The goal of the funding is also to help school districts hire new teachers and purchase more supplies if required, as well as provide transportation and additional classroom space where necessary.
Orange County enrolled roughly 4,000 displaced students during the 2017-2018 school year – more than any other school district in the nation. Meanwhile, Seminole County enrolled over 500 students. Both counties fall within Murphy's congressional district.
"In the wake of last September's hurricanes, tens of thousands of families from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands relocated to Florida – especially Central Florida – and thousands of children and youth enrolled in our schools after the school year had begun," Murphy says in the release. "This required the state and counties to spend more money than they had anticipated spending at the start of the school year."
She adds: "I'm so proud that, as a result of our effort in Congress, the federal government is now making our state and our school districts whole."
Murphy's initiative was converted into law in February, when Congress approved the Bipartisan Budget Act
. The U.S. Department of Education is now allocating funds to states and territories under that law.
According to the release from Murphy's office, the state will distribute most of the funds in the next 30 days.
Stay on top of Orlando news and views. Sign up for our weekly Headlines newsletter.