District 55 Addresses Needs of Poverty

A smooth start for the new school year was reported by Dr. Billy Strickland at last night’s District 55 School Board meeting. He thanked all involved for the smooth start of the new school year, especially thanking parents for enrolling children early, coming to open house, and even learning how the car lines work. The district began the school year with 6,045 children, including four-year olds, but the qualifying number of students that the state considers will not be counted until 135 days into the year, and the state does not count any student under five.

Teachers began the school year with a professional development session dealing with teaching children of poverty.  “We know that they can learn, but we were shown new methods which are important because three out of four of our children are living at the poverty level.” said Dr. Strickland. Ford Elementary has the highest number of students coming from poverty level homes, with Gray Court-Owings second this year.

Nutrition Director Wanda Knight reported record attendance during this summer’s free lunch program in District 55 schools. She told the District 55 school board that every school in the district was open for summer meals, and 19,668 meals were served. That’s up from 12,000 last year. She said “We did this all without any cost to the district, we are reimbursed from the federal government, so spread the word so we can get more meals.” Knight noted “It also helps our hourly employees to gain a pay check which they usually do not have in the summer.” Superintendent Dr. Billy Strickland said “This is a need of our children and because the numbers are so large there is no cost to the district.”