School systems across the state are seeing more students come through their doors without basic necessities, according to new report from the Tennessee Comptroller's Office of Research and Education Accountability.
The Homeless Students in Tennessee Public Schools report shows startling numbers of students classified as homeless.
In our viewing area, two school systems stood out as having especially high numbers of homeless students.
Cumberland County reported 696 homeless students in the 2010- 2011 school year. Hamblen County reported 649.
Both of these systems had more than much-larger Knox County School District, which had 446.
Hamblen County's Director of Schools Dr. Dale Lynch said the number has tripled since the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act required them to begin counting in 2001. That's when they began receiving federal funding through a competitive grant.
Dr. Lynch said he isn't surprised by the numbers. "Ten years ago we were also at 40% free and reduced lunch, in regards to students who were coming in our doors living in poverty. Now it's closer to 65%," he said.
The federal definition of homeless, according to McKinney-Vento, includes students living in a motel/hotel, a shelter, a park, or doubled up with another family that doesn't have adequate space.
Second grade teacher, Kaitlyn Wise, has two homeless students in her class.
"It's really hard for me to talk about just knowing that my kids come in without basic necessities. It's hard to see that as a teacher and as a human," Wise said.
Despite the number of homeless children increasing, the federal funds have decreased. They received around $62,000 last year to fill students' needs of school supplies, hygiene products, transportation, and clothing.
"If you don't have proper shoes, you don't have school supplies, you don't have a place to sleep at night, you're not going to be able to learn to the fullest extent," Wise said. "But it is great knowing that our county and our school can provide those things to make the students equal to the other students."
Dr. Lynch said their schools are still preforming very well despite the difficulties.
Additional homeless students identified by school district:
Anderson County - 0
Blount County - 0
Alcoa - 14
Maryville - 23
Campbell County - 175
Claiborne County - 33
Cocke County - 73
Davidson County - 2,049
Fentress County - 4
Grainger County - 14
Hawkins County - 66
Jefferson County - 145
Loudon County - 18
Lenoir City - 7
Monroe County - 34
Roane County - 3
Scott County - 4
Union County - 0
*If a district reported zero, they may not be in compliance with McKinney - Vento requirements.