More than 500 students from Syria enrolled in Peel Board

Mississauga News - The Peel District School Board has taken in 515 refugee students from Syria since beginning its Inspire Hope campaign last December.

The majority of those students are in elementary school (437), and many of them are attending Thornwood, Brian W. Fleming and Dixie public schools. The high school-aged students are at Mississauga's TL Kennedy Secondary School, the board reports.

According to the board, an existing Syrian community and large number of Arabic speakers has made Mississauga the ideal destination for families from the war-torn country that made headlines last year when Canada committed to taking thousands of refugees in.

When the Inspire Hope campaign was launched, trustees raised concerns about receiving funding from the provincial government for any additional costs – on top of per pupil funding – such as extra English as Second Language (ESL) teachers, as well as social workers or psychologists needed for trauma counselling.

Peel board executive director Tony Pontes confirmed at Wednesday's regular board meeting that they will be reimbursed for the additional costs.

"There are lots of big and little things," spokesperson Brian Woodland said of the costs, which include a resource teacher to support schools around ESL, providing secondary students with Arabic-English visual dictionary as well as summer programming.