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Homeless students decrease in school district

Education department data show steady decrease since 2012

The number of homeless students in the Oregon Trail School District has steadily declined for the last three years, according to counts released by the Oregon Department of Education.

The ODE’s 2014-2015 Homeless Student Data, showed that last year Oregon Trail School District served 65 homeless students, 1.5 percent of the total students enrolled, a decrease of 123 students since 2012.

Other data compilations from ODE state that during the 2013-14 school year, Oregon Trail served 99 homeless students, 2.33 percent of the student population, and in the year before that, 188 homeless students, 4.48 percent of the student population.

“I think that’s probably based on the economy and the fact that it’s improving,” said Julia Monteith, communications director for the district. “It could also be in part related to the services provided in the community.”

Matt Newell, the homeless liaison at Sandy High School, said homeless students are not always in the situation you would expect.

Most of the students in the Oregon Trail School district who are seen as homeless may just be doubled up with friends or family and may not even see themselves as homeless. Students are also seen as homeless if they are living in a hotel or campground, in a shelter, in a car or on the streets.

“Each situation looks a little bit different,” Newell said.

Newell, with help from the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, helps provide services to homeless families in the district, including free lunches and scholarships for fees associated with classes and activities.

“We send all this money to other countries … and we have kids here that need to be fed and need clothes,” Newell added.