SRO report shows ‘homeless student’ numbers increasing in R-2 District

Roxie Murphy

According to a report presented Monday, prepared by Ashley Kopp, family school liaison officer, the Gasconade County R-2 School District has seen a jump in homeless students since last year.

Director Joyce Lowes noticed the increase from 27 defined homeless students in 2016 to 46 in 2017.

“We have really jumped,” Lowes said. 

Kopp was absent from the meeting, so Special Education Director Robi Pennock answered questions. 

“We did and that is contributed to the fact that we are better at identifying those students,” Pennock said. “And a test of relationships we are making within our district. Those parents are coming to us and contacting us.”

Lowes asked if the closet of supplies and clothing for those students in need was useful. “Absolutely,” Pennock said. “She (Ashley) does a lot of leg work; on her Facebook page, literally she asks for it and gets donations. She works so intricately with these families and trying to assist them.”

Superintendent Dr. Chuck Garner reminded the board that the homeless definition does not mean that the student is not in a home.

“It may mean they may be doubled up, or in a transient home, or something like that, but it doesn’t mean they are without shelter,” he said. “It’s the McKinney-Vento Act, and we use that as a qualifier.”

According to the act, the definition of a homeless student is individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, including:

• Sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason;

• Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations;

• Living in emergency or transitional shelters;

• Have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used, as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;

• Living in cars, parks, pubic spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings;

• Migratory children, or unaccompanied youth, living in the circumstances described above.

According to the report, the R-2 School District’s family school liaison position continues to be invaluable with assisting these students. Kopp noted the district continues to identify medical resources, housing resources, and provide basic living necessities that they would have otherwise been unable to access. As numbers provided in the report show, the district continues to be more successful in identifying homeless students.

The cost of the program in 2016-17 was $644.81.

High school educational trips approved

In other news, directors approved two out of state trips with 7-0 votes. The state and international DECA conferences will take place in Kansas City, and Atlanta, Ga., respectively. Shea Bowen, DECA sponsor, and qualifying DECA students will attend State Conferences March 11-13 and International Conferences April 20-25. Internationals have traditionally been held in New York City.

Students from Kevin Lay’s physics class and robotics team were invited on a private tour Feb. 17-19 of the Fermilab facility outside Chicago, Ill. Fermilab is one of the largest particle accelerators in the world. Five students will be attending. 

This trip is at no cost to the school due to a patron donating the cost of travel. Students will miss one day of school and the school will need a substitute teacher for one day. Lay and high school principal Cindy Hawkins will be the chaperones on the trip.

Steve Tappmeyer is being inducted in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame through his years as a Northwest Missouri State basketball coach.

The board approved new sound systems for the Gerald Elementary School and high school large gymnasium with a 7-0 vote. The bid was awarded to MC Communication, not to exceed $20,650 for the elementary school, and $27,848 for the high school.

Retirement letters were accepted with 7-0 votes from Garry Adkison (effective Feb. 16), and Pam Idel (end of the 2017-18 school year).

A resignation letter from Hannah Fletcher as color guard sponsor was approved with a 7-0 vote.

Employments approved with 7-0 votes included the extension of Garner’s contract through the 2020-21 school year; Shyla Baxter as a vocational agriculture instructor, and Danielle O’Dell as an OES teacher for the 2018-19 school year.

The following employments were approved with a 6-0-1 vote: Faith Bohl, Owensville High School (OHS evening custodian), James Lauth (Owensville Elementary School evening custodian), and Donna Brown  (substitute bus driver).

Transfers approved on 7-0 votes included Pee Wee Howard (to OES lead custodian), and Hope Nilges (to OES tech explo interventions teacher for 2018-19).