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Monarch School Could Lose Its Exemption As Homeless-Only Campus

Above: Students at Monarch School do stretches during physical education class on Oct. 11, 2013.

The future of San Diego’s school for 300 homeless children could be in jeopardy.

Aired 10/11/13 on KPBS News.

The Monarch school is able to serve a population of homeless students exclusively because of a special federal exemption, which could soon be eliminated under a proposed Senate bill.

The Monarch School, a $15 million K-12 campus in downtown's East Village, is able to serve exclusively a population of homeless students because of a special federal exemption. But a Senate bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which recently passed a Senate committee vote, would eliminate that exemption and could force Monarch to close its doors.

To keep it's homeless-only designation, Monarch would have to become a private institution, said Erin Spiewak, CEO of the Monarch School Project.

"Which would mean that we would no longer receive any public funding for the school which makes up about 50 percent of our budget, so obviously there would be huge financial ramifications if the Senate were to pass this legislation," Spiewak said.

The other option would be to open to the public, which Spiewak said would be intimidating to the homeless students.

"They feel more comfortable talking about what they’re going through, and sharing and asking for help and support," Spiewak said. "Or telling us that they didn’t have breakfast or a shower that morning and being able to do a load of laundry, or going to the boutique to get a pair of shoes."

In addition to its education program, Monarch provides other support services, such as food, healthcare, clothing, school supplies, transportation and counseling.

Monarch is one of three schools in the country that would be impacted by the law.

Spiewak said Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer fully support Monarch as a homeless-only school, and have vowed to help keep it open.

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Avatar for user 'thompsonrichard'

thompsonrichard | October 12, 2013 at 3:40 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

There's the new prep school at the downtown public library, the King-Chavez high school at First and Broadway, and San Diego High School (the oldest school on its original site in the State of California). The Monarch School sometimes uses the Downtown YMCA gymnasium. In any event, the facilities are extremely cramped. The Acting Mayor Todd Gloria would be the first to help. I remember a long, long time ago when I was San Diego High School PTA President and a family's house had burned down. I asked what could be done. And they mentioned a shoe fund. It was such and such a sum of money times the number of burnt out children! Glad there's a boutique at the County/Little Italy Trolley Stop School. But the Catholic Church on the 5 Fwy was more help than anyone else. I organized a prayer breakfast later for an hundred clergy (partly to introduce Tom and Carolyn Owen-Towle to the city), and Father Brown did the blessing. (RIP Father Brown.) However, since the Science and Technology HS -- HIGH TECH High School -- isn't that far away (over by the former [N]aval [T]raining [C]enter) the downtown library should take over the Monarch School. Certainly the homeless need to feel they're special. We need another charter school funneling academically high-powered students to my alma maters (UC Berkeley and UC San Diego) like we need another head hole.

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Avatar for user 'thompsonrichard'

thompsonrichard | October 12, 2013 at 4:13 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Of course, the new school, located just south of Petco Park, at 1625 Newton Avenue, is five times the size of the school’s County / Little Italy facility and will allow the school to double enrollment, maximizing educational opportunities for children affected by homelessness in San Diego. The sixth and seventh floors of the new downtown library, could house 500 additional homeless students. The 50% of the budget of which Spiewak speaks comes from the County, not the City. Spiewak said the other option, which would be to open to the public, would be intimidating to the homeless students. Frankly, having supervised offenders in Los Angeles Co. Juvenile Probation Dept. camps -- having taught full-time in exclusive private, Catholic and public schools in So. Korea / China / Japan -- and having substitute-taught in scores of San Diego schools (both public and Catholic) I don't think that a mix of modes to include foreign-language-speakers and/or sports-minded students would be intimidating to homeless children at all.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | October 13, 2013 at 10:22 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Ten years ago, the Democrats ridiculed George Bush about the homeless situation in this country. They lambasted him every chance they got. CNN and NBC ran hour long programs on the homeless situation. Today, that situation has all but doubled. Where are the crying Libs now?? Why is funding being stopped. Where is the liberal news outcry and showcasing of the homeless? Oh, right, Obama is president. The sacred one cannot be criticized, for he is an "historical" president. Sad.

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