147 students now classified as homeless in USD 480 school district
By JESSICA CRAWFORD • Daily Leader
It would probably shock most to learn that 147 students throughout USD No. 480 are homeless. Some might be even further surprised as to what specifications determine a particular student to be classified as homeless. A presentation during Monday evening’s school board meeting was a wake up call for all involved in educating such students.
The first several factors that establish homelessness are relatively obvious. A child is living in a homeless shelter, on the streets, in a hotel or motel or he or she is awaiting placement in foster care.
The final factor, according to Sara Carillo of the Newcomer’s Center, is doubling up. This means two families are living together in an overcrowded dwelling. Most of the children considered homeless throughout the district fall in this category, Carillo said.
According to the McKinney Vento Act of 1987, homeless students have rights to ensure they receive an education.
They are entitled to enroll without records or a TB immunization that is usually a standard prerequisite to enrollment. Free lunches are to be available without filling out an application. Transportation to and from school must be provided. Fees and fines associated with standard participation can be covered by a school’s general fund.
Lastly, as a Title 1 requirement, $1,500 is set aside for needs of the entire 147 children.
Although the district is doing the best it can to stay on top of the problem, Carillo said the situation is not likely to go away.
“It is a problem,” she said. “And it is going to get bigger as the economy gets worse.”
Director of data and testing Jill Stout demonstrated the new program purchased by the district known as File Maker Pro.
The data the program holds will help educators throughout the district discover problem areas students might be having by comparing MAP and Kansas State assessment scores from year-to-year.
“This will show year-to-year if teaching strategies are going to work or if they need to modify it,” Stout explained.
With such data available, teachers can get to struggling students much earlier rather than letting them slip through the cracks.
“If we start at the high school level,” she said. “We are being reactive – not proactive.”