Berks reps: Schools enrolling Puerto Rican students need aid

Approximately 150 enrolled in Reading schools

WASHINGTON - Two of Berks County's four representatives in Congress are calling on the federal government to help local school districts cover the costs associated with enrolling Puerto Rican students displaced by Hurricane Maria.

U.S. Reps. Lloyd Smucker and Charlie Dent, both Republicans, wrote a letter Monday to GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan and Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, asking for additional disaster funding for the affected districts.

"Eastern Pennsylvania has a large Puerto Rican population, and as a result of Hurricane Maria, many people are moving from Puerto Rico to Pennsylvania to start over," they wrote.

Since the hurricane hit the island in September, Smucker's 16th District has enrolled more than 500 Puerto Rican students, including approximately 150 in the Reading School District; Dent's 15th District, which includes northern Berks County, has enrolled more than 300 students.

"The arrival of these students has challenged local school districts that do not have the physical or financial resources to meet the demand," the lawmakers wrote in their letter.

As of last week, more than 200 families from Puerto Rico have settled in Berks County, and that number is expected to keep increasing, according to the Centro Hispano in Reading.

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