Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Helping transitional students - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Helping transitional students

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By Ursula Madden - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Last week, Taking Back Our Neighborhoods told you about three Memphis City School students who live at a local homeless shelter.

For 11-year-old Terry, 14-year-old Devon, and 17-year-old Angie, trying to maintain top grades while sharing two rooms at a shelter they call the 'honeycomb hideout' is a challenge.

Officials at Memphis City Schools say as many as 1,700 students are homeless, while another 3,400 move each school year..

Dolores Flagg is the Homeless Children and Youth Program Coordinator for Memphis City Schools.

"I've had people come in and say, 'We're living in our car,'" she said.

Flagg uses federal money, $160,000 a year, to make sure homeless children have uniforms, supplies, transportation, tutors, and documentation to keep them enrolled.
 
"It's difficult enough to be in a homeless situation, but to have to worry about 'where am I going to sleep' and 'oh, by the way, where am I going to do my homework,' the kids get behind," she said.

Up to six months behind, and it's not just homeless students - it's any child who switches schools during the school year!
 
"We must have an aligned instructional system," MCS Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash said. "We must have an aligned curriculum so that every school at a particular grade is teaching the same content against the same standards."

Cash predicts the district's mobility problem will get WORSE in this spiraling economy.

"These numbers will grow as mortgages continue to get foreclosed on and families have to move, rental to rental to stay ahead," Cash said.

Cash added he has a radical plan to offer long-term stability to kids who need it most.

"I'm seeking planning grant money right now to build and develop a design for an elementary school for highly mobile students," he said.

A school where students not only attend classes, but also live.

"Full residential, 24 hours, seven days a week for up to two years to give the family a chance to get on their feet again," Cash said.

The boarding school would be the first of its type in the nation, and if it works, be expanded to middle and high school.

Next Wednesday on Action News Five at 6, Cash talks in detail about the boarding school concept, and how he believes he can have it up and running by August 2010.

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