The Jefferson Parish school system is facing costs of $4.6 million for this school year to educate 533 unaccompanied immigrant children, state Superintendent of Education John White said Friday.
Jefferson has the top enrollment of the immigrant children in the state.
State officials are still waiting for cost estimates from the East Baton Rouge, Orleans, St. Tammany and Lafayette parishes school systems, which are educating others.
White made his comments in a two-page letter to U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., who sent his own letter earlier this week requesting the information.
More than 1,000 unaccompanied immigrant children are living with sponsors in Louisiana.
The children generally are natives of Central America, and some fled amid gang warfare and other problems.
In his letter, White said the state will provide $2.2 million of the $4.6 million in school costs that Jefferson Parish school system officials expect.
The superintendent said additional staff will be needed to serve the new students without affecting class size.
White said district officials have said they will hire 27 additional English as a second language teachers, 20 new ESL para-educators, 19 regular education teachers and three special education teachers.
He said the state does not anticipate additional federal funds to help pay for the influx of new students.
In his letter dated Sept. 10, Vitter said he is concerned about the impact of the new arrivals.
“This massive and sudden influx of children has the potential to cause significant challenges for the upcoming school year,” Vitter said in his letter.
The issue has sparked political arguments for weeks.
Gov. Bobby Jindal has demanded details from the White House about the children in Louisiana, including where they are living, the timeline for determining their final status and whether the federal government plans to provide dollars for their education and health care.
Vitter said in his letter that Jefferson Parish has 533 of the children, Orleans, 237, East Baton Rouge, 173, St. Tammany, 54, and Lafayette, 51.
While exact amounts vary, White said the total average costs for students is $8,854.