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Grant Supports Military-Dependent Students In San Diego Schools

— Five San Diego Unified schools are getting three years of funding to improve student health and academic performance.

Aired 7/18/13 on KPBS News.

Department of Defense grant will support English instruction and student health at five city schools.

Students in the library at Miller Elementary School in Murphy Canyon, July 18, 2013.

The $2.5 million grant from the Department of Defense will be split among elementary schools in areas with high concentrations of military families like Mira Mesa and Murphy Canyon. The schools will use the funds for student computers and teacher training to boost English instruction.

School Board Vice President Kevin Beiser and Superintendent Cindy Marten unveiled the award at Miller Elementary in Murphy Canyon. Students on hand for the announcement talked with Scott Mathis, command master chief for Naval Base San Diego about where their families had lived before San Diego and where some were moving later this summer.

All of that moving around can take an academic toll, according to Vanessa Peters, interim program manager for San Diego Unified's Office of Youth In Transition, which supports military families. She said the grant will be particularly helpful for students who might have gaps in their schooling.

“It’s really targeting their English skills, and then we’re also going to provide tutoring," she said. "So, that’s really nice. They’ll get that tutoring in case there is that gap when they transition into one of these school sites.”

Mathis said the defense department's support for local schools is particularly important in a place like San Diego where there are about 9,000 students from military families enrolled in the city's schools.

"If [the students are] comfortable when we move, it makes our jobs easier, to go somewhere and deploy and to forward deploy and know that our families are taken care of," he said.

The grant will also fight and prevent obesity by supporting nutrition education, gardens at the schools and outreach to parents about healthy eating.

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