The Renton School District's homeless population is on a steady increase, according to the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Homeless students are counted as part of the federal McKinney-Vento act, which defines a student as homeless if he or she lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.
The act requires districts to provide homeless students with the same access to education as everyone else, including transportation to and from the same district that the student was attending before he or she became homeless, according to OSPI.
Statewide, the number of homeless students topped 27,000, reflecting an increase of 5.1 percent from 2010-11 and up 46.7 percent from 2007-08, according to OSPI.
The number of homeless students has increased by nearly 100 between 2007-08 and 2001-12.
The increase could have been better identification and reporting, but it also was attributable to a worsening economy during that time period, with parents losing jobs or getting fewer work hours after the economy tanked in 2008.
According to OSPI's data provided, 96 of the homeless students in Renton live in shelters, 296 live with relatives or friends, 20 live in hotels or motels, and nine were cnosidered "unsheltered," which could include cars or campgrounds.
The number of homeless students in Renton in 2011-12 were nearly evenly distributed among the grade levels, except for pre-kindergarten grade levels, which had only five students reported to be homeless last year, according to the OSPI data.
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Students are considered homeless if they live in emergency or transitional shelters; motels, hotels, trailer parks or camping grounds; shared housing due to loss of housing or economic hardship; hospitals secondary to abandonment or awaiting foster care placement; cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing or similar situations; and public or private places not ordinarily used as sleeping accommodations for human beings, according to OSPI.
The lack of a stable home puts tremendous pressure on homeless students. Mobility rates are higher than students in homes, absentee rates are higher, health problems are more prevalent and graduation rates are lower, OSPI wrote.
Homeless Students in Washington State by School District
(as reported by each school district)
-- Data from OSPI
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