District continues targeting students in povertyThe battle to save Red Wing's students in poverty continues to wage. Programs and community partnerships continue to strengthen, Supt. Stan Slessor said Thursday — one day after the U.S. Census Bureau released new figures for students living in poverty.
By: Mike Longaecker, The Republican Eagle
The battle to save Red Wing's students in poverty continues to wage.
Programs and community partnerships continue to strengthen, Supt. Stan Slessor said Thursday — one day after the U.S. Census Bureau released new figures for students living in poverty.
About 8 percent of Red Wing students between ages 5 and 17 come from poor households, according to census figures. At 5 percent, Cannon Falls had the fewest students in poverty among Goodhue County school districts.
Like Red Wing, Goodhue and Kenyon-Wanamingo registered at 8 percent. Nine percent of Zumbrota-Mazeppa and Lake City students live in poverty, according to census data.
Slessor said that in many cases, low-earning parents didn't have "warm and supportive" experiences as students, but most are eager to reverse that trend.
"They understand that education is a way out of poverty," he said.
Kelliher, Red Lake and Mahnomen school districts had the highest rates in the state, all between 34 and 39 percent.
Department of Education officials announced Friday that the state received a $4.5 million federal grant to increase advance placement participation among low-income students.
A department spokesperson said the program aims to help students who have AP-level skills but don't participate.
"Minnesota students who take AP courses are better prepared for college and career success," state education Commissioner Alice Seagren said in a release.
Slessor said local efforts to reach students of families in poverty are in the second year of a five-year plan. Red Wing's students who are eligible for free and reduced-price lunches have failed the past two years to achieve proficiency in math.
"I'm confident we're going to get there if we stay the course," Slessor said, noting that economic thresholds differ greatly between census and state education poverty designations. "I'm seeing the community and the school realizing the effects of poverty."
While open to all students, Slessor especially hopes mentoring programs provided by the YMCA and Rotary will connect with economically disadvantaged students.
Slessor said the programs' intergenerational pairings can provide students glimpses of a future they might not otherwise envision.
"We feel that relationships are so important to kids," he said.
The district also is ramping up parent outreach at Colvill Family Center and through parent informational nights at its elementary schools.
Other programs include the Remedy, a non-religious, district-sponsored program offered at First Covenant Church that provides students a "safe place" after school, Slessor said.