Chandler Unified School District

Published: Published: September 20th, 2017

Homeless Students Get Tutoring

boys walking

This article was originally published in the SanTan Sun News on September 19, 2017.

Homeless students in Chandler to receive free tutoring

September 19th, 2017
By: Colleen Sparks, Staff

Homeless students in the Chandler Unified School District dealing with the stress and chaos of not having a permanent place to sleep at night will get a boost because of a grant.

The district is one of 32 districts and schools in Arizona receiving grants for Homeless Education Services. More than $1 million in grants will benefit about 30,000 homeless students in urban and rural districts.

The federal money for the program comes from the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2001.

The Arizona Department of Education executes the program, as well as the grant application process, while the Arizona State Board of Education approves the grants.

Homeless students in the Chandler district will receive tutoring from certified teachers after school, as well as over spring and summer breaks, said Monica Romero, district director of federal programs and state initiatives.

These include homeless high school students who do not live with either a mother or father and elementary school children who are homeless.

The Chandler district has 180 homeless students now but expects it will have identified more than 300 homeless students by December, Romero said.

The homeless students will get help in any other subjects in which they need assistance, in groups of no more than five pupils per teacher, she added. Sometimes they will get one-on-one tutoring.

“The students have gaps based on lack of a stable home due to stress, lack of focus and concentration during the difficult times outside of school,” Romero said.

She said many of the homeless students are “couch surfing,” moving around to stay with different people without their own permanent place to stay overnight.

“It may be from many different issues,” Romero said. “Some parents might lose employment. We have students who just get in a bad family situation. There’s so many different scenarios. Some of our kids find amazing Chandler residents who take them under their wing.”

The federal grant is not the only way the Chandler district is able to help homeless students, Romero said.

A volunteer group called Chandler Youth in Transition works with the Chandler district to help support district students who qualify as being either homeless or living on their own.

The program provides the students a monthly stipend and guidance to try to end the cycle of poverty and improve their future.

CYIT is a program of the nonprofit organization Homeward Bound and the Chandler school district administers it while a guidance committee steers it.

Romero said she is also grateful to Fans Across America Charitable Foundation, which operates the FANS Locker Room, through which homeless students can get toiletries, clothes, hygiene products and household items.

Eligible students in need in the Chandler district can get help with medical and dental care through the CARE Center, run by the district and supported by Dignity Health’s Chandler Regional Medical Center Children’s Dental Clinic, the City of Chandler and St. Vincent de Paul.

Romero also said the Pappas Kids Schoolhouse Foundation teams up with schools to help disadvantaged youths.

Data the Arizona Department of Education Homeless Education Office released identified more than 29,500 children in grades pre-kindergarten through 12th who were homeless and enrolled in public schools in the state during state fiscal year 2015.

“It is important to me that the needs of all of our students are met,” Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas said. “We know that these children are an especially vulnerable population. Not only have we been able to meet the needs of those currently on the program, we have also increased our aid to additional children.”

To learn more about the state’s Office of Homeless Education and the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2001, visit

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Published: Published: June 7th, 2017

Chandler Unified School District Kicks Off Summer Food Service Program

Summer shouldn’t equal hunger. Though for many Arizonan children and their families, not being in school often means the absence of one, if not two, meals a day. The Arizona Department of Education’s Summer Food Program seeks to put an end to that however.

Chandler Unified School District has a robust and active nutrition program, focusing on whole child wellbeing and education, and they’ve continued their school year-long mission to serving Arizona’s children right into the summer months with Summer Food Pizza Camp.

The event conspires to blend much-needed healthy meals for low income students and their families with fun in a family-friendly activity: makin’ da pizza pie!

Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas and ADE staff, along with Chandler Unified staff, were excited to be immersed in the healthy chaos of the day’s lunch service and pizza-making activity. Children ran around cafeteria at Ken “Chief” Hill Learning Center. Baxter and Bobby Freeman from the Arizona Diamondbacks entertained us during the event, and there certainly were a lot of playful squeals (especially when Baxter made his rounds) from the children.

The day’s event hosted a lunch for students and their families, followed by a “pizza camp,” where children made their very own pizza from scratch. Children decorated the pizza boxes, helped stretch their own dough, and selected fresh toppings from all the traditional pizza yummies, such as pepperoni, onions, green and red peppers, and mushrooms. They even added their own sauce and cheese.

The Arizona Department of Education Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) served more than three million meals in 2016 at school districts throughout the state. The program is part of an effort to ensure Arizona’s children receive continuous access to healthy meals. The program serves children ranging from newborns to 18 years old. SFSP sites, which can be a school or a non-profit organization like a YMCA or a Boys & Girls Club, must be in eligible areas where the percentage of children approved for free or reduced-priced lunch is 50 percent or higher. Sponsors are allowed to serve two meals or a meal and a snack per day.

Chandler Unified is just one of the school districts that are participating in the SFSP. Those interested in locating SFSP sites in their area, as well as their operating dates and times, can log on to and type in their address or zip code or text FOOD to 877-877.

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