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School District provides support for students in need

Almost 20% of children in CCISD live below below the poverty level

From Clear Creek Independent School District

January 5, 2007

LEAGUE CITY – A school field trip to the Houston zoo on a winter day could have been cold and miserable for 40 children had it not been for the compassion and foresight of the teachers at McWhirter Elementary School. These caring teachers, knowing the economic hardships their students endure, had a watchful eye on their little children as they arrived at school that day. Clipboards in hand, they made notes of which children needed warmer shirts, coats and shoes.

“We were able to walk to a closet where we stock everything from school supplies, shoes and clothing and we were able to give 40 coats to wrap our super students in before they went to the zoo,” said Dr. Lori Broughton, principal of McWhirter Elementary School. Every day, compassionate teachers, like the ones at McWhirter, are giving of their resources and time to ensure that the children they teach are safe, warm and loved.

Providing a quality education for today’s student can be challenging. In this new world, textbooks, teachers, classrooms – these are just the basics. Many students in the Clear Creek Independent School District come to school with greater needs that include hot meals, academic resources, clothing and social services.

Economically Disadvantaged – The Numbers

Since its consolidation in 1948, the student population of Clear Creek ISD has undergone many changes. In six decades, the Clear Creek community has evolved from a small, mostly rural area, to a booming metropolis with diverse industry and populations. Meeting the needs of a growing and diversifying school population is an ever-changing process for Clear Creek ISD.

The district now cares for more than 35,500 students from many different backgrounds with more than 60 different languages spoken in the homes of Clear Creek ISD students. One of the district’s fastest growing student sub population is economically disadvantaged.

Our community is quickly changing. In the year 2000, Clear Creek ISD had 2,786 economically disadvantaged students. By 2006, this number increased to 6,526 students. Currently, the economically disadvantaged sub-population makes up almost 20 percent of the district’s total population. This 134 percent increase in six years is representative of the changing demographics of the Clear Creek community and these numbers continue to increase.

Clear Creek ISD is not alone in its mission to care for the many needs of its students. This is a growing issue throughout the state. The average Texas household income is $42,139. However, 24.9 percent of Texas children live below poverty level despite the fact that 56.2 percent of Texas households have both parents in the workforce, according to U.S. Census Bureau reports.

Academic Programs and Services

Students who qualify for the national school lunch program receive the classification of economically disadvantaged. However, providing for the needs of these students involves so much more than supplying a hot meal twice a day. These children may have both parents working multiple jobs to support their family, and in more extreme cases, residing in non-profit shelters. Students whose families are experiencing economic hardships often need additional resources to ensure their academic success.

“The district provides approximately 100 different programs to meet the unique needs of our at-risk students,” said Andria Schur, Clear Creek ISD at-risk coordinator. While the state does not consider being economically disadvantaged to be an indicator for being at-risk, the majority of students who are at-risk are suffering financial hardships. “We do everything we can to help students on their educational path. We are dedicated to meeting the academic, financial and emotional needs of our students.”

The district takes a proactive stance in reaching out to its students. Beginning with pre-kindergarten classes and continuing through graduation from the unique academic offerings such as Project ExCEL, students in Clear Creek ISD have access to numerous resources to help ensure their academic success.

“It is important to provide for these students who are in need,” said Holly Hughes, Clear Creek ISD assistant superintendent of elementary education. “As educators, our goal is to ensure that all our students are successful, both academically and socially. Everyday our teachers give of their time and their hearts to ensure the well being of their students.”

At the elementary level, there are many campus-based programs available to help students who may be struggling with their academics due to difficulties at home. Afternoon tutorial programs, the PALs (Peer Assisted Leadership) program that provides mentoring from area high school students, and campus based Student Success Teams all contribute to the academic and emotional wellbeing of the student. The district’s goal is to provide a strong academic and social foundation for the student prior to the student entering the rigorous world of secondary education.

Providing for the needs of secondary students presents different challenges. In addition to their academic responsibilities, many secondary students must also work to help support their families, or in some situations to support themselves. For these students, a flexible schedule is necessary to keep the students focused on their education. Several of the district’s education programs, such as Genesys Works, provide the opportunity for students to earn class credits while studying a career path in a high-tech, high-paying field and earn a paycheck.

Finding different ways to ensure secondary students are on a path toward graduation has been a priority for Clear Creek ISD. The district is committed to creating an academic environment for its students based on solid relationships and rigorous and relevant course work. To meet the changing needs of the secondary student, the district developed Smaller Learning Communities, the Clear View Education Center and, most recently, Project ExCEL.

Project ExCEL is an non-traditional campus designed for high-achieving students and students who may be first generation college goers. Currently, students attend a half-day at their home campus and the second half of the day at the college campus.

“In Project ExCEL, the students are attending college in a nurturing and supportive environment,” said Alex Torrez, Clear Creek ISD assistant superintendent of secondary education.

Funding for Services

Clear Creek ISD receives federal funding, called Title I funding, to provide for the needs of economically disadvantaged students. The Title I program began in 1965 as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and ensures that all children have the opportunity excel academically.

In 2006, Clear Creek ISD received $906,985 in Title I monies to fund special programs, additional instructors and academic resources for its students. The district currently has four campuses, League City, McWhirter, Stewart and Whitcomb Elementary Schools that qualify as Title I schools.

Developing Awareness

Identifying students in need can be a challenge. Some parents are not aware that their child qualifies for the free and reduced meal program; others may think their financial situation is short term and for that reason, they do not qualify. Because of these reasons, it is important to provide teachers and staff with the appropriate training to identify changes in a student’s demeanor, productivity and resources from home.

“It can be a challenge to identify the students who are in need, as it is not always immediately apparent which students are economically disadvantaged,” Schur said. “Our teachers are very close to their students and they are usually the first to pick up on the changes with our students and make referrals to the campus counselor.”

The campus counselor is responsible for assessing the needs of the student, and if necessary, referring the student to Katina Henderson, a social worker employed by the Harris County Community Youth Service. The district works with Henderson to provide community-based counseling and intervention. Both the campus counselor and the social worker find ways to provide school supplies, clothes and connections to health and housing services for students and their families.

“School is the one major system that touches the lives of all children,” Henderson said. “Our program is set up to provide the least threatening place to identify and help youth with problems that affect their attendance, classroom behavior, academic achievement and home life.”

Henderson said she has many stories of how the district has stepped in to assist families. Most recently, a teacher referred a seven-year-old student because his family was having financial problems. Henderson personally met with the student’s mother to discuss the family’s situation. During the meeting, the mother revealed that she was a single parent with a disability and the student’s grandparents lived with the family.

Henderson referred the family and provided transportation to the Texas Rehabilitation Commission where a medial evaluation and job training was provided. She also helped the family enroll in local English as a second language classes and apply for health insurance for the student and his 13-year-old brother. The mother received a job for the disabled and the grandparents received leads about employment. Henderson continues to maintain contact and assist the students and their family as needed.

Partnering with the Community

As a district, Clear Creek ISD has developed partnerships with organizations like Communities in Schools, a non-profit organization that works as a liaison between the school and community resources. Partnerships help the district find compassionate mentors, back-to-school resources such as supplies, clothes, health services for vaccinations and so much more.

For more information about Clear Creek ISD and the programs for economically disadvantaged students, or to discover ways to contribute, call the Clear Creek ISD Office of Public Information at (281) 284-0020, or visit the district website at

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