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Florida Schools Receive $95M For Taking In Displaced Puerto Rican Students

More than 11,000 displaced Puerto Rican students enrolled in Florida schools during the 2017-18 school year, according to the Florida Department of Education.
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More than 11,000 displaced Puerto Rican students enrolled in Florida schools during the 2017-18 school year, according to the Florida Department of Education.

The federal government is reimbursing Florida schools that took in thousands of Puerto Rican children displaced by Hurricane Maria.

The Florida Department of Education is set to receive more than $95 million, with the state keeping around $48 million and distributing nearly $47 million to local school districts.

Polk County Public Schools will receive $1.7 million, the largest share for any school district in Tampa Bay. Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties will get $1.4 million and $1.2 million, respectively. 

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, who pushed for the funds to be included in the bi-partisan budget bill, said she hoped the funds would ease budget burdens of schools who hadn't planned for the influx of families from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“I’m proud to have secured these federal investments in our young people, helping to support Florida school districts that did the right thing and took in students displaced by Hurricane Maria,” Murphy said.

The funds were distributed to school districts on Sep. 7 and will go into their general funds and can be used for compensating personnel, academic counseling and health services, among other things. Around $1.2 million will also go to private schools in Florida that took in displaced students.

More than 11,000 displaced children enrolled in Florida's public schools, according to the state Department of Education.

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Roberto Roldan is a senior at the University of South Florida pursuing a degree in mass communications and a minor in international studies.