Stimulus money to help schools aid homeless students in area

Rick Wagner • Apr 25, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — The Kingsport school system and others in the region are receiving federal economic stimulus money earmarked for homeless students.

According to numbers released Wednesday, Hancock County leads Northeast Tennessee with $137,363, while Johnson City is to get $40,027, Kingsport will get $20,738 and Sullivan County will get $4,237.

However, Hancock County Director of Schools Mike Antrican and Tennessee Department of Education spokeswoman Amanda Anderson on Friday said that was a mistake — that the system has no identified homeless students, and Hancock will get nothing from homeless student stimulus.

“We don’t know how that happened,” Antrican said.

Corrected numbers were posted on a state Web site Thursday.

On the other hand, Anderson said the amounts for Kingsport City Schools and other Tri-Cities systems were correct, with only some of the systems beginning with “H” incorrectly listed.

However, Anderson said the regular Title X funding for Kingsport is falling from the $39,000 in the current year compared to an estimated $20,000 for 2009-10, which added to the $20,738 means a net increase of more than $1,700.

“This allocation of $20,738.23 was based on the 2007-08 CREP numbers we reported. We had 186 KCS homeless students in 2007-08,” said Michele Wilder, homeless education program coordinator for the Kingsport school system. CREP is the Center for Research in Educational Policy, and the data is a means for collecting No Child Left Behind (NCLB) data.

Wilder said she has 181 students and 48 siblings — mostly preschool-age children — on her caseload for 2008-09. Students who don’t have a fixed, regular nighttime residence are considered homeless.

That can include those staying with relatives or friends because of economic hardship or a fire, as well as those living in hotels, shelters or cars, plus the traditional image of someone living outside or under an overpass.

“This funding basically is to be spread out over two years,” Wilder said. “The funds will be used for things such as purchasing necessary school supplies not provided through donations, paying excess transportation costs so that students can remain in their school of origin when school bus service cannot be arranged, paying fees associated with obtaining records for school enrollment, i.e. birth certificate, guardianship papers, etc., providing tutoring services, and enrolling homeless students in after-school and/or summer programs — just to name a few.”

The regular Title X funding and grants can vary from year to year.

Across Northeast Tennessee, other Title X stimulus amounts are Bristol none, Carter County $780, Elizabethton $3,456, Greene County $669, Greeneville $2,787, Hawkins County $780, Unicoi County $112 and Washington County $3,122.

Gov. Phil Bredesen and Commissioner of Education Timothy Webb on Wednesday announced Title X McKinney-Vento Act funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for schools and districts to meet the special needs of students who are homeless.

The funding, according to the news release, works out to $1,011,156 statewide.

“The children and youth of Tennessee who are homeless are usually the victims of decisions outside of their control,” Bredesen said. “It is up to us to provide them access to education and other services, just like their peers, in hopes of improving their lives and opportunities for the future.”

The money can be used for purposes including coordinating community social services for families with homeless students, providing school supplies, paying for the cost of travel for a homeless student to continue attending his or her school of origin, and providing supplemental instructional services.

The ARRA Title X McKinney-Vento Act funding is part of the Department of Education’s proposed fiscal year 2009-2010 budget, which is under consideration by the Tennessee General Assembly. Each school district’s awarded allocation is also posted at http://tn.gov/education/recovery.shtml.

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