Poverty in Santa Rosa County schools has hit an all-time high and the number of homeless students this year is expected to rise.
Of the 28,233 students in the county 47 percent qualify for free or reduced lunches, and last year the number of students reported homeless or unaccompanied, meaning they are without a parent or guardian, was 1,301.
The count restarts July 1 and with only a few weeks of school complete the district has identified 497 homeless students and 33 unaccompanied youth. Of these students, 96 attend class right here in Navarre.
The number of homeless and unaccompanied is expected to nearly triple by the end of the school year.
Some of these students are living in motels and hotels. Others live with their families in cars or in temporary arrangements. Some even sleep outside.
Director of Federal Programs for the Santa Rosa County school district Karen Barber, Ph.D., said identifying those struggling can be a challenge.
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