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Schools Want Federal Funds For Enrolling Haitian Refugees

Two Massachusetts school districts that took in Haitian students after the country's devastating January earthquake are hoping for federal help to cover the costs associated with enrolling the Haitian refugees.

The Senate could take up a measure this week that includes funding for two school districts — Boston and Brockton — that took in more than 125 Haitian refugees.

Boston schools enrolled 160 Haitian students and Brockton public schools accepted 140. Brockton is spending about $700,000 in services for the Haitian students, according to Superintendent Matthew Malone.

"You know, we're in the human service industry," Malone said. "We take care of kids first. And that's what we've done. And now we're asking our government to step to the plate and do the same thing."

Boston Superintendent Carol Johnson believes that the Boston community and its public schools have a responsibility to care for refugees from the earthquake the devastated Haiti.

"Clearly, Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world and we happen to be one of the richest countries in the world," Johnson said. "I think it's only right for us, in the circumstance of a natural disaster where no one could have anticipated it and no one could have prevented it, that we do the right thing from a humanitarian standpoint."

In the end, however, school districts already facing fierce budget shortfalls are struggling to incorporate the new arrivals, Malone said.

"I eliminated 258 positions," Malone said. "That's why this is a big deal for us. Every dollar I get back, I put more adults in the classroom. And to me, that's what this game is all about."

This program aired on July 16, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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