By DAVID GREEN
The common perception of a homeless person is of someone living in a shelter outside or in a vehicle or an abandoned building.
That’s the case in the worst of situations, but there are also people who have lost their home or apartment due to financial reasons and are now living in a public shelter for the homeless. In some cases, they’ve crowded into the home of family or friends as they desperately try to get by until they can find something of their own.
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvements Act was reauthorized by Congress in 2001 and became part of President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind program.
The act defines homeless children as lacking a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.”
When it was time for Michigan Department of Education personnel to check on the implementation of the act in Lenawee County schools, the county coordinator suggested starting in Morenci.
“She knew we have a well-run program,” said Superintendent Dr. Michael Osborne.
The state staff had nothing but praise for school counselor Diana Fallot, who serves as the liaison for Morenci schools, and for the school staff members who work to support the program.
“Mrs. Fallot makes sure we follow the law and remain mindful of needs,” Osborne said.
Federal law allows students to remain in their home district before they lost their residence, if they choose, or to transfer to the district where they now reside. A 17-year-old student staying with friends would have the right to enroll in a district even without a parent’s signature.
In addition to enrollment assistance, homeless students are given help with transportation, school supplies, special education services and referral to other needed services.
At the start of the school year, Mrs. Fallot said, 18 Morenci students were identified as homeless. Since then, five have found permanent housing and one student has been added to the list of homeless.
“It’s always a fluid number,” she said. “However, once students are identified, they stay eligible for the school year.”
Board trustee Phil McCaskey stated that veterans having housing problems should contact him for assistance through the Veterans Administration.
FINE ARTS— Dr. Osborne reported on a program that he attended with art teacher Kym Ries and music teacher Keith Filipek in Fayette last month to discuss the state of the arts in public schools.
“In tough times,” he said, “fine arts typically gets cut.”
The program offered “great conversations” about how communities and organizations within communities can work together to preserve the arts in schools.
JR. VOLUNTEERS—Middle school teacher Sally Kruger told the board about the Junior Volunteer Club for eighth grade students.
She said the effort started six years ago as a service learning class, but later changed to a club format.
The club’s projects include “adopting” residents at the CQC adult foster care home, helping with the Kiwanis Wishing Tree project, collecting Boxtops for Education ($530 worth last year), collecting pull tabs for a Ronald McDonald house, tutoring fifth grade students, earning funds for the Toledo Zoo Pal project, participating in a canned food drive, collecting recyclable items, and helping with the Teen Book Drop that furnishes books for the Department of Social Services office in Adrian for its “self-serve library.”
COACHES—Jaren Stutzman was hired to serve as Morenci’s varsity baseball coach for the 2012 season. The Findlay native is a student at Adrian College.
Morenci athletic director Taz Wallace said he spoke to several people about Stutzman and received strong recommendations.
“I’m looking forward to having him part of the athletic program,” Wallace said.
The following volunteer assistant coaches were approved: Sarah Cool (bowling), Brett and Jacob Bovee (boys basketball), Tess Ramsey (JV girls basketball) and Loren Delmonico (wrestling).
READINESS—The board approved a resolution to continue participation in the state’s Great Start Readiness program for preschool children.