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Cohoes City School District

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Cohoes and Lansingburgh win $60K consortium grant to educate homeless students, become trauma-sensitive districts

197

The number of Cohoes
and Lansingburgh
students who were
homeless in 2015-16.

August 15, 2016—The Cohoes City School District will partner with Lansingburgh Central School District in a three-year McKinney-Vento grant geared toward improving enrollment, attendance and academic success of their homeless youth populations—a combined 197 children in grades K-12 in the 2014-15 school year.

The basic grant award of $40K will be used to purchase software licenses, classroom supplies, Google Chromebooks, and provide transportation services for homeless students to participate in dynamic after school learning programs offered in both Cohoes and Lansingburgh. The grant will also fund an after-hours open media center for parents to access computers at a school in their home district.

Cohoes and Lansingburgh also received one of the 10 enhanced grants available statewide to support the transformation into trauma-sensitive school districts. The additional $20K will cover the cost of a professional development trainer and books for staff in both districts on teaching students with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with our neighbors across the river to ensure that these students are assisted during a difficult and uncertain time,” said Cohoes Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Spring. “The grant will help us alleviate the unique barriers these students face.”

In the 2015-16 school year, Cohoes began the work of transforming into a trauma-sensitive school district to more effectively address the social, emotional and mental health needs of its student population. The two districts plan to share professional development resources and work together to improve attendance, behavior instruction and academic performance of homeless and at-risk youth.

“Our district-wide committee on ACEs has completed the initial book study, and will begin implementing the program districtwide,” said Cohoes Assistant Superintendent Peggy O’Shea. “The additional support and training made available through the grant will have a tremendous impact on the educational outcomes of our homeless students.”

The two school districts partnered for the grant for a number of reasons. Due to their close proximity, they often serve the same families. For example, when a family becomes homeless in Cohoes, strict zoning restrictions in the city often prohibit “doubling up” (living with another family) so students end up in Lansingburgh.

Both districts have high rates of poverty, and homelessness impacts nearly all of the schools in both districts. The elementary homeless student population makes up 105 students. Another 54 students are middle school-aged, and the remaining 41 are in high school.

According to New York State Education Department report cards, 69 percent of all students in Cohoes qualified for free and reduced-price lunch. In Lansingburgh, the rate was 59 percent of the student population.

Funding for the grant program comes from the U.S. Department of Education, through the Education of Homeless Children and Youth Program authorized by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act.