Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

November 1, 2012

School system works to meet homeless student needs

CROSSVILLE — Cumberland County Schools not only offer a quality education to students, but staff also work to help make sure homeless students have their unique needs addressed so that they can be more successful in their academic endeavors.

Lisa Phillips, homeless liaison, works to identify homeless students and connect them to local agencies that can assist in their unique situations.

"Our primary goal with our homeless program is to promote services that can improve students' academic success and school attendance," Director of Schools Aarona VanWinkle wrote in a memo to members of the Cumberland County Board of Education. The memo followed a story aired on a Knoxville news program that reported Cumberland County had 696 students that were classified as homeless during the 2010-'11 year.

The number comes from a Tennessee Comptroller report, "Homeless Students in Tennessee Public Schools," and looks at the compliance of school systems with the McKinney-Vento Act. That requires school systems to report the number of homeless students to the state each year.

VanWinkle noted the act classifies students as homeless if they are living in a shelter, including transitional housing while awaiting foster care, living with another family, living unsheltered or in substandard housing and living in transient housing, such as hotels or motels. The law defines homelessness as "individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence."

In the 2010-'11 school year, Cumberland County reported 26 students were living in a shelter, which includes transitional housing while awaiting placement through the foster care program. Two students were living unsheltered and 12 were living in hotels or motels. The greatest number of students in the report, 532, were living doubled-up with another family.

The homeless count for the 2011-'12 school year was 354 students.

The report found the number of homeless students nationwide grew 38 percent from the 2006-'07 school year. Tennessee's increase was much higher during that same time span, jumping 74 percent. This is particularly troubling because, nationally, fewer than 25 percent of homeless students graduate from high school. The National Center on Family Homelessness found children who are homeless are four times more likely to show delayed development than their housed counterparts, twice as likely to have learning disabilities and have three times the emotional and behavioral problems.

Under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, states that accept funding through the act must require all school districts to:

•appoint a local homeless education coordinator;

•admit homeless students to school immediately, even if students are unable to provide documents typically required for enrollment;

•keep homeless students in the schools they originally attended when they were housed, to the extent possible; and

•provide transportation to help homeless students remain in their original schools.

In previous years, Cumberland County has been awarded a federal homeless grant for about $34,000; however, no grant funds were awarded for 2011-'13. The school system does receive $4,000 through federal Title I funds to help with school supply and health needs of homeless students.

"In an attempt to meet the needs of Cumberland County students that have been identified as homeless, we place great emphasis upon the utilization of all resources available within the community," VanWinkle wrote.

The school system collaborates with local organizations that includes the Bread of Life Mission, Avalon Center, Plateau Pregnancy Center, Cumberland Good Samaritans, Teens Against Drugs Center, Crossville Housing Authority and the House of Hope. Phillips contacts families to determine needs and provide information, guidance and referrals to appropriate agencies. Phillips has also organized a community coalition that meets quarterly to address homeless issues in the community.

Questions were raised about the accuracy of the report, especially since Cumberland County's number of homeless students that year were far above other area counties, including Putnam County with 25 students and Fentress County with 4. Davidson County had 2,049 homeless students, Hamilton County counted 1,603, Memphis City school district reported 3,193, and Rutherford County had 767. Those were the only school systems reporting higher numbers than Cumberland County.

The Tennessee Comptroller has also questioned the report, noting several surrounding states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Louisiana have identified significantly higher numbers of homeless students, and some districts in Tennessee in areas with high unemployment and/or high foreclosure rates identified no homeless students at all.

"The increase in homeless students may be attributable to job losses and other difficulties related to the economy that have affected families, but they may also be the result of some school districts' improved efforts to identify homeless students," states a press release from the Comptroller's office.

VanWinkle noted the accuracy of reports filed by counties was not monitored, and there is no incentive or additional funding provided to counties with higher numbers of homeless students.

"However, we feel an accurate account is essential for our students," VanWinkle wrote. "Our homeless liaison, along with guidance counselors, teachers, nutrition staff and administration understand the importance of identifying those students that need assistance and strive to meet the needs of the children as well as their families."

 

1
Text Only
Area News
  • trail 1.jpg Working on the trail

    Volunteers were out Saturday morning constructing a trail at Meadow Park Lake. This was phase one of trail building, explained John Conrad, Crossville Trails organizer, with volunteers clipping twigs and branches and raking a path. Bruce Whitehead, George Schlenker, Lee Skinner and Pat Schudiske rake a path about three feet wide. Later, larger obstacles, such as fallen trees, will be removed, and topsoil removed on the trail to aid in trail maintenance. The trail will be about 1.5 miles in length.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Panel waives ticket charge for boosters

    The building and grounds committee approved a request to waive a portion of the ticket fees for a school sports booster group planning a truck and tractor pull at the Cumberland County Community Complex, but the committee cautioned the group it would take action by the full Cumberland County Commission to relieve them of the obligation to return 10 percent of the gate charge to the county.

    April 23, 2014

  • Jury seated in Batty slaying case

    A jury plus alternates has been seated and began hearing evidence in the trial of John Russell Giles of Hampshire Lane, Fairfield Glade, charged in connection with the Nov. 7 death of Kimberly Ann Batty, 58, of Dovenshire Dr., also Fairfield Glade.

    April 23, 2014

  • New site sought for convenience center

    An expansion at Colinx and the improvement of a city street will require Cumberland County to move a convenience center. The city of Crossville has proposed a site in the same general area, but commissioners on the county's building and grounds committee were concerned about the cost to make the site suitable for a convenience center and the proximity of the Little Obed River.

    April 23, 2014

  • Hwy. 70 crash.jpg CCHS student dies in car crash

    Crossville Police have identified the victim of a two-vehicle collision that occurred Tuesday morning on Hwy. 70 W at the intersection of Dillon St. as a sophomore at Cumberland County High School.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • IMG_0783.JPG Visitors center now open to the public

    A ten-year effort to establish a gateway to the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, as well as to point tourists and visitors to the many other area parks, historical sites and points of interest, concluded Thursday as the community gathered with officials from the city of Crossville, Cumberland County, the Crossville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce and the National Park Service to dedicate the Crossville-Cumberland County: Gateway to the Big South Fork Visitors Center on River Otter Dr.

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Shots fired during standoff over domestic situation

    Chickens were killed, threats of bodily harm made and at least three shots fired in the presence of a Cumberland County sheriff's deputy during a domestic dispute between an uncle and nephew.

    April 22, 2014

  • Jury selection set in Batty slaying

    Jury selections were scheduled to begin today in the trial of John Russell Giles of Hampshire Lane, Fairfield Glade, charged in connection with the Nov. 7 death of Kimberly Ann Batty, 58, of Dovenshire Dr., also Fairfield Glade.

    April 22, 2014

  • Thoughts for this holy time of Easter

    The first performance of George Friderick Handel's masterpiece, "Messiah," was given in Dublin, Ireland, on April 13, 1742, where it was well received. When it was performed in England there were criticisms of the music, performers and location of the performance. It was held that the subject matter was too exalted to perform in an opera house, but rather it should be performed in church. Wouldn't it be interesting if we knew how many times this magnificent music has been performed in the past 272 years?

    April 22, 2014

  • Joe Goodwin.JPG Warden Joe Goodwin remains a true original

    The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency celebrates its 65th anniversary this year, and Crossville's Joe Goodwin is part of that living history.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice