School For Homeless Students In San Diego Breaks Ground On New Campus
Friday, February 17, 2012
Aired 2/17/12 on KPBS News.
The Monarch School will soon undergo a major transformation, moving from a cramped downtown space on Cedar street, to a newly remodeled two-story building in Barrio Logan, just south of Petco Park.
The number of homeless families with children continues to grow in San Diego. The county school district estimates there are 15,870 homeless children in the region. On Thursday, a one-of-a-kind school for homeless students celebrated a major milestone.
Like the butterfly it's named after, the Monarch School will soon undergo a major transformation. Moving from a cramped downtown space on Cedar street, near the trolley line to a newly remodeled two-story office building in Barrio Logan, just south of Petco Park.
This fixer upper may not look like much right now, but by the Fall it will look accommodate up to 350 students from grades K-12.
Fabian San Elias is a 17 year old senior who once considered dropping out of school after his family lost their home during the housing crisis. "I honestly didn't think I would be here in 12th grade you know," San Elias said. He credits his teachers at Monarch for encouraging him to go to college. "From the smallest thing to the biggest thing, letters of recommendation, anything. They're really there to help," he said.
Monarch has been helping San Diego's homeless children since 1988, and it's the only school of its kind in the nation. The schools principal Joel Garcia said the new campus is about leveling the playing field with modern classrooms and equipment.
"What our school provides is a warm, safe, nurturing place, smaller class sizes for our students, so they get that additional support they need to become academically successful in school," Garcia said.
The remodel will cost about $14 million and the school is scheduled to open at the new site in September.
Julie Dillion, a board member and chair of the schools capital campaign, said they're close to paying off the capital campaign. "We have a $5 million donor we are working with. I'm not prepared to announce yet, but we're getting close. So we hope to be able to announce soon the capital campaign is fully funded," she said.