Madison School district hopes to be anchor for homeless students

Pat Schneider:

That is sometimes the function — although not the intent, really, of the TEP program — which provides academic and emotional support for students whose chaotic life circumstances can set them grades behind their classmates.
The Zavala kids are among more than 280 students identified as homeless in the school district in the first six weeks of the school year. That number is a rolling count, updated throughout the school year as the district as students become homeless.
The district is on pace to exceed last year’s total, which was up sharply from the year before. The nation’s growing economic crisis is a likely culprit for at least some of the increase. One longtime TEP teacher says more homeless students are coming from established Madison families, not just those who have recently arrived to the city without housing.
As a result, homeless students are now in the attendance areas of schools all over the city — and not just those near homeless shelters and motels used to house homeless families. As a result, school officials this year are re-examining how best to use their limited resources, said Nancy Yoder, director of alternative programs. The school district now spends more than $750,000 on homeless services, but more district dollars are highly unlikely, Superintendent Dan Nerad said Thursday. District officials are preparing for a November referendum asking voters to approve increasing their spending limit by a total of $13 million over the next three years just to preserve current programs.