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Cheney , Washington
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March 26, 2015     Cheney Free Press
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March 26, 2015
 

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Page 2 Free Press "i i J ~,~:/-, .;, i v " Thursday, March 26, 2015 ui By AL STOVER Staff Reporter At its March 17 meeting, the Medical Lake school board of directors went through a lengthy agenda that included approving a first reading of a policy that would change the number of credits required to graduate high school. Under policy 2140 - "Graduation Require- ments," students who enter ninth grade after July 1, 2015 and are scheduled to graduate in 2019, will be required to complete 24 credits - a recommendation frpm the Washington state Board of Education. The change in graduation requirement credits includes two less elective credits from 5.5 to 3.5, and the addition of one science, one art and two world language cred- its. Students will still have to take four English, three math and social studies, two health and fitness and one career and technology educa- tion credit. "In essence this is a pathway for students to leave high school with some of their require- ments for four-year universities already fin- ished," Kim Headrick, director of teaching and learning, said. Headrick added that students who plan to attend technical school instead of a four-year university could take CTE credits that are more in line with their career path instead of the world language credits. Medical Lake High School students are cur- rently required to complete 22 credits before they graduate, two more than most high schools in the state. Students are still required to develop a "High School and Beyond" plan, complete a culminat- ing project and meet the required writing, read- ing and math standards. The board passed the first reading on a policy about suicide prevention. Under the policy, staff members who have knowledge of a suicide threat must take the proper steps to support the stu- dent and report this information to the building principal or designee who will, in turn, notify the appropriate school officials, the student's family and appropriate resource services. At the beginning of each school year, the district will provide all staff with a plan for rec- ognizing, screening, referring and responding to students in emotional or behavioral distress. "All of the counselors in the district already receive this type of training at the beginning of every school year," Headrick said. The board also passed second readings of policies regarding co-curricular activities, inter- scholastic activities and student records. The board also approved the Drug Free Work- place Notice of Compliance and the 2015-16 school calendar. School will start Sept. 7, 2015 and end on June 14, 2016. Al Stover can be reached at al@cheneyfreepress. com. '~!;i;iiiiiiii;ii~iiiiiiiiiii[ii!iiiiiiiii;! iiii!ii~i~iiiUi~ii~iiii~iiiiiiiii:iiil ~;i~ :iiiiiiiiiii:iiiii:ii!iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii: Photo by AI Stover Hallett Elementary fihh-grader Angel Mendez shows his visual project to the board of directors, staff and parents at the March 17 school board meeting nts unique challeng for Cheney schools By JOHN McCALLUM Editor Cheney School Dis- trict Director of Student Support Services Kristi Thurston is worried when she thinks about homeless students in the district. When it comes to homeless students, there are many wor- ries. Worries about get- ting those identified as homeless enrolled. Worries about provid- ing some degree of sta- bility in their lives to help w!th their receiv- ing a good education. And there's the worry of identifica- tion - perhaps the biggest. "I worry that there is a family living some- where who we don't know about." Thurston said. That's one of the reasons why the dis- trict recently added language to its "Home- less Students Enroll- ment Rights and Ser- vices" policy encour- aging all district staff, from custodians to bus drivers to teachers to administrators, to learn how to identify home- less students and make sure they and their families are aware of all district and commu- nity services available to them. Thurston says there are currently 116 home- less students enrolled in Cheney schools, up from between 80 - 90 when she began work here in 2008. Their numbers are spread throughout the district, even though their place of temporary residence may not be. That's part of the challenge in identi- fying homeless stu- dents. Thurston said some families move to Cheney to look for a job, without success, or lose one soon after arrival and enrolling their children in the district. They then end up living in hotels or motels or with nearby immediate family in Spokane, utilizing so- cials services there. "They have a home, it's just not their own," Snowdon Elementary. School counselor Kim Lefler said. "It's just not on the street, or in a shelter." Lefler, who works with homeless students at Snowdon and in the district, said this can lead to students not marking the correct boxes on the district's housing questionnaire indicating living sta-. tus. This makes the task of identifying these students, and subsequently letting their families know of their rights and ser- vices available to them under the federal McK- inney-Vento Act, more difficult. Because of the stig2 ma of embarrassment attached to homeless- ness, district officials need to use less di- rect methods at first rather than just asking "Are you homeless?" Transportation Depart- ment staff may notice a student is switching buses often, or admin- istration sees contact phone numbers chang- ing frequently. Ryan Fitzgerald, who works with homeless families at times in his role as Homeworks principal, said teachers play a crucial role in learn- ing about their stu- dents. Is a student often showing up to class with cleanliness issues? Are they wear- ing the same clothes throughout the week? Are they often miss- ing their assignments and how often and when is homework turned in? "Sometimes they're "We try to think of places where we can get the most eyes on it (posters)," he said. It's important be- cause there are servic- es federal law makes available to the home- living in a shelter and "Sometimes they're living in a it's hard to shelter and it's hard to get your get your homework homework done because it's (the done be- shelter environment) loud," cause it's Snowden Elementary School counselor Kim Lefler (the shelter environ- ment) loud," Lefler said. Fitzgerald said they have also resorted to putting up posters in places homeless stu- dents and families tend to frequent, such as laundromats and dis- count stores. less. Homeless students may not have the prop- er paperwork when they enroll, sometimes because it's tied up in channels from frequent relocations, but are still allowed to enroll and continue their edu- cation while the paper- work catches up. Cheney's policy al- lows for students to remain in the school where they originally enrolled before becom- ing homeless, or opt to another school closer to where they are current- ly living. Home- less stu- dents are entitled to transporta- tion to their school, even if they are coming from outside district boundaries. Homeless students are also entitled to free and reduced lunch- es, something Lefler considers especially important since the Cheney School Dis- trict has put an em- phasis on preparing nutritious meals made from scratch with fresh ingredients. And there's the added de- sire - also stated in the district's policy - to hook up homeless families with the many community services available to them. Cheney School Dis- trict has set up part- nerships with organi- zations such as Feed Cheney, Commun;i- ties in Schools, SNAP, CHAS and 2nd Harvest Food Bank. Lefler said Inland Power and Light employees hooked up See Students page 3 Photo by AlStover Medical Lake Middle School March PACE winners Medical Lake Middle School honored six students who were selected for the March Partners Advanc- ing Character Education (PACE) Student of the Month award. They received certificates and T-shirts and were treated to a special lunch March 20 provided by Denny's Harvest Foods and the school. February's PACE trait of the month was diligence. From left to right: Nicole Ehr, Alex Dunay, Masie Dorcheus, Isaac Outhenthapanya, Belen Armendarez and Kadean Lizama. 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