Homeless student rates continue to climb in Thurston County schools

Olympia School District superintendent Dick Cvitanich is one of several South Sound educators who will lend their support and talent in “A Really Big Shoe 9: Rockin’ to the Jukebox – 1950-1985” Sunday afternoon at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts.

Cvitanich will pair up with Capital High School principal Chris Woods to help introduce acts in the annual variety show by Entertainment Explosion.

“We’re supposed to sound like DJs,” Cvitanich said. “I think it will be really fun. People will be able to do dedications if they want.”

In its ninth year, A Really Big Shoe has generated more than $184,000 for homeless children in Olympia, Tumwater, North Thurston, Shelton, Yelm, Rainier, Tenino and Rochester school districts.

“It’s a really important fundraiser in our community,” Cvitanich said.

Last year, the number of homeless students continued to rise in South Sound’s largest school districts, according to information recently released by the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Here are the numbers of homeless students reported for the 2013-14 school year, compared to the year prior:

• North Thurston Public Schools: 623 up from 508.

• Olympia School District: 463, up from 422.

• Tumwater School District: 246, down from 253.

• Rainier School District: 74, up from 71.

• Shelton School District: 336, down from 374.

• Tenino School District: 37 down from 57.

• Rochester School District: 155, down from 218.

• Yelm Community Schools: 60, up from 49.

• Griffin School District: The state’s report only indicates the number was less than 10, compared to 6 the previous year.

School districts can receive special funding to help give homeless students additional support as part of the federal McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth program, Cvitanich said.

“The big key around the McKinney-Vento Act is trying to create stability for kids when the rest of their life is not so stable,” he said.

For example, the Olympia School Districts spends about $122,000 a year in federal, state and local funding to provide extra services for its homeless students. Those services include out-of-district transportation if a homeless family is temporarily sheltered in a different area, school supplies, toiletries, clothes, shoes and other emergency support.