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Schools facing rise in homeless students

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Bursting at the Seams

The San Diego area has been hit especially hard economically. According to the San Diego County Office of Department of Education, there were 13,204 homeless students countywide during the 2009-2010 academic year.

Joel Garcia, co-principal at Monarch School says the school has seen about a 74 percent increase in enrollment in the past three years. While the school never turns away its students, Mr. Garcia and Ms. Fuentes say the school has outgrown its current space. This summer, it will begin work on a new building in which school officials hope to serve about 350 students. When Ms. Fuentes arrived at the school in 2004, enrollment hovered around 100 students in grades 3 through 12.

“We’re using every little space to maximize our facility,” Ms. Fuentes said. The school has already started to use its library as a classroom, and it is currently looking for nearby space to erect “storefront classrooms” within walking distance of the school, she said.

In March, the school began a soft launch of a $7.5 million capital campaign for its new home. It plans to remodel the interior of the building and move in by the 2012-2013 school year.

The school does not recruit students—most of its families learn about it by word of mouth or through social-service referrals, usually while living in shelters, Ms. Fuentes said.

Homeless in Arizona

Not too far away, in Arizona, another school serving homeless students has seen its waiting list grow.

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