HISD Evacuee Funding

The Houston School District has -- officially -- asked FEMA to reimburse the millions of dollars it's spending to educate the children of Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

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The Houston ISD has between five and six thousand Katrina evacuee children, more than any other school district in the country outside Louisiana, and spokesman Terry Abbott says it's costing taxpayers plenty.

"We estimate that it takes us about $180,000 a day for the cost of the Katrina evacuees. And we know that on December 1st for example, that our Katrina evacuee population was 5,377. For most of those kids we'll get about $6,000 in return to help pay that cost."

Abbott says that's $6,000 per child, and HISD believes most of these children are here to stay, at least through May.

"Our hurricane evacuee population has not dropped very much at all, and there's every reason to believe at this point that the vast majority of those evacuees will be with us throughout the school year. So we think that by the end of the school year we will have spent in the neighborhood of $30 million on the evacuee education."

Abbott says this unexpected influx of students is hitting the district hard because it's forcing the district to spend money that wasn't in the budget. The school board had to use up most of the district's rainy day reserve fund, but they feel sure they'll get it back.

"The good thing is though the Congress has approved the appropriation, the President has signed it, the money is there and there's every reason to believe that we'll get it."

Abbott says HISD also helped private schools all over Houston gather information on evacuee students and file requests for reimbursement.