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
  • state park bath house.jpg Historic CMSP bathhouse gets new use with renovation

    When a new pool was constructed at Cumberland Mountain State Park in the 1980s, the beach area was converted to a quiet place to watch the water and the bath house was boarded up.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cole dismissed from teaching position

    The Cumberland County Board of Education voted 8-1 to dismiss tenured special education teacher Stephanie Cole, who remains at the Cumberland County Jail without bond charged with the July 20 fatal shooting of Louis Tammaro Jr.

    July 29, 2014

  • Crash sends one to jail, cyclist to UT

    A crash involving a motorcycle and a pickup truck resulted in one man being flown to a regional trauma center and the second man being arrested after he fled the scene, Crossville Police reported.

    July 29, 2014

  • County to include more meeting info on web site

    Cumberland County commissioners approved a change in the commission's rules which requires the full package of materials supplied to the commissioners to be posted on the county's web site.

    July 29, 2014

  • jobless june.jpg County jobless rate up for June

    County unemployment rates for June 2014 show the rate increased in all 95 counties of Tennessee. In Cumberland County, the jobless rate rose from 7.4 percent in May to 8.3 percent for June.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • lver-greg morris.jpg New veterans rep joins Career Center staff

    The Tennessee Career Center in Crossville now has more resources available to assist veterans seeking employment. The center recently hired Gregory Morris as a local veterans employment representative (LVER) to work with both unemployed veterans as well as employers seeking job applicants.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Richard Lemert.jpg Lemert pays visit to Crossville

    Richard Milo Lemert, (left) great nephew of Milo Lemert of Crossville, recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, is pictured with L.T. Thurman Jr. It was Richard Lemert's first visit to Crossville and during his brief stay, he stopped by the Milo Lemert Building on Main St. and viewed the plaque that was placed in honor of his great uncle. Milo Lemert was married to Nell Snodgrass of Crossville and was killed in action on their first wedding anniversary. Thurman's father, Litton T. Thurman Sr., received the Distinguished Service Cross in the same WWI battle that Lemert was awarded the nation's highest honor. Richard Lemert resides in Raleigh, NC, and is planning to attend the Medal of Honor Convention in Knoxville Sept. 10-13.
     

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • IMG_2558.jpg Understanding the structure of addiction and recovery

    Bradford Health Services hosted a free workshop Friday for area agencies on the structure of addiction and recovery. Robbie Keeble who is recovery liaison for Bradford, was the featured speaker. With rates of substance abuse so prevalent in the Crossville area, several local agencies arranged to instruct participants on how addiction works in the brain and the process that those struggling with addiction need to take in order to recover successfully. There were 94 attendees in all, including several social service agencies, health care providers, law enforcement personnel, businesses and concerned citizens. If you are interested in attending or hosting a future training on matters related to substance abuse, contact Bradford Health Services at (931) 528-6803.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • TMSAA rules get one-year try out

    Changes are coming for the elementary sports programs next year, with a 6-3 vote of the Cumberland County Board of Education. That vote of support of recommendations from the athletic committee was met with concerns from board members that the move towards county-wide rules and regulations was an attempt to move toward middle school teams.

    July 28, 2014 1 Video

  • ffg fire 1.jpg Fire damages home in Fairfield Glade

    Not only did Fairfield Glade volunteer fire fighters battle a blaze Saturday afternoon at 107 Runnymede Rd., hot weather conditions were a challenge as well.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

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