District 51 gets stimulus money for homeless students

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An $80,000 grant provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will help local middle schools and high schools provide additional services for homeless students.

The School District 51 REACH program — Resources, Education and Advocacy for Children who are Homeless — has been notified that it will receive the grant. The program will use the money to send certified teachers to three middle schools, two high schools and the Fruita 8/9 School so they can tutor homeless students, said Cathy Haller, District 51 prevention services coordinator.

The school district has had a grant for five years that pays for similar services in local elementary schools. A progress monitor will also help students stay in school.

District 51 selected the participating schools based on which schools had the highest concentration of homeless students. The district said it served 478 homeless students last school year.

“Nationally, 50 percent of homeless students drop out of high school,” Haller said.

The teachers can tell homeless students about the different ways of earning a diploma while supporting their families, including night school and online classes. The teachers also can help bridge the gaps for students when they move a lot because of their situations, Haller said.

Because the grant total was more than Haller requested, she said she would like to add certified teachers for tutoring homeless students at two more high schools. She is waiting for approval from the state to do so.

The REACH program is entering its seventh year in operation. Since July 2003, all Colorado school districts have been required to offer support services for homeless students.


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