SB Unified and Santa Barbara Education Foundation Team Up to Help Students SOAR

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Source: Santa Barbara Education Foundation

So much has changed—but one thing remains the same—our students need an engaging and meaningful education, now more than ever when we are only able to teach our students from a distance.  We learned a lot when schools went remote last year—things we knew but now were critical.  We learned that some students did not have internet access. We learned that some students depend on their school for meals. We learned that some students live in crowded and noisy environments and need items like noise-reducing headphones so they can concentrate on what their teacher is teaching during their day in the "zoom classroom."

These are urgent needs that affect more than half of the students in the Santa Barbara Unified School District.  

Through a partnership with the Santa Barbara Education Foundation and the Santa Barbara Unified School District, the Student Online & Academic Resources (SOAR) campaign was developed to raise the necessary funds so that students will have the extra help they need for success in the classroom from afar.  

At the end of last school year, an estimated 1,000 SB Unified families did not have internet access at home. Before Covid-19, resources like public and school libraries could help these students log on like their classmates. However, without these resources open to help fill these gaps, students need more help than ever.  

SBUSD issued iPads and Chromebooks to all students, and with the support of donors and community partners, like Cox Communications, these families now have an internet connection. But connectivity is only the beginning. To help students navigate the remote learning landscape successfully as we enter the new school year, students need internet connectivity, essential learning tools, and food security.  Additionally, students need materials to supplement lessons with hands-on activities at home in subjects like art, music, science, and physical education.

One out of seven students in the Santa Barbara Unified School District is considered homeless—they need internet hotspots to access their lessons.  And 47% of our students depend on the school district for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Since school closures last March, SB Unified served almost 500,000 meals to students in need through "Grab and Go" food pick up sites in just a few short months. For all of the uncertainty SB Unified students and their families are currently facing, it seems that food insecurity adds another layer of instability during an already challenging time.

The SOAR campaign launched in July, and so far, SBEF has secured donations on the District's behalf to launch the additional internet coverage and many take-home music and art kits for students. Still, we've got to keep fundraising to keep up with the basic needs of SB Unified students.  No kid should go hungry, not anywhere, but especially not here.  

"Right now, our students' needs are great," stated SB Unified Superintendent Hilda Maldonado, "but with our community's help, we can ensure our continued academic success during this difficult time."

For more information on the Santa Barbara Education Foundation and its efforts to support SB Unified students through the Student Online & Academic Resources (SOAR) campaign, please visit www.santabarbaraeducation.org.

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letmego Sep 21, 2020 11:38 AM
SB Unified and Santa Barbara Education Foundation Team Up to Help Students SOAR

Have you been attending school board meetings and reading the materials for upcoming board meetings? I would recommend it. There's a 3 phase plan for reopening schools, dependent upon when SB county reaches the "red zone" (we are currently in purple).

TLDR: small cohort date/ hybrid date/ modified fully in person:
1. Sept 22/ Oct 13/ Nov 2
2. Oct 19/ Nov 9/ Dec 22
3. Nov 2/ Nov 30/ Jan 19

Dates are dependent on when the community does its part to get into the red zone. The school board meeting is tomorrow, September 22, and this schedule will be discussed starting at 7 pm.

bosco Sep 21, 2020 01:06 PM
SB Unified and Santa Barbara Education Foundation Team Up to Help Students SOAR

There are currently around 14,500 students in SBUSD. "One out of seven students in the Santa Barbara Unified School District is considered homeless"? That would be about 2,000 students in a city with an official homeless population of ~900. "47% of students depend on the school district for breakfast, lunch, and dinner"? That is ~6,800 students. I don't doubt there are many families in need but... come on... these are not real statistics. At least clarify the data with definitions. Who is writing this?

letmego Sep 21, 2020 01:12 PM
SB Unified and Santa Barbara Education Foundation Team Up to Help Students SOAR

You can find the definitions of homeless on the CA CDE website. Copied below.

Children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason

Children and youths who may be living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, shelters

Children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings

Children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings, or

Migratory children who qualify as homeless because they are children who are living in similar circumstances listed above

bosco Sep 21, 2020 01:25 PM
SB Unified and Santa Barbara Education Foundation Team Up to Help Students SOAR

Thanks for the clarification. It still seems a bit misleading as it sounds like anyone living in a multifamily housing situation could be considered homeless. I know that is a lot of families in SB and that can mean financial instability. However, I'd still say that is not the same as being homeless.

Basicinfo805 Sep 21, 2020 02:42 PM
SB Unified and Santa Barbara Education Foundation Team Up to Help Students SOAR

This is why edhat is valuable. Thank you for the great input Letmego. Up until now I had no idea how the schools districts were getting these homeless numbers, justifying a variety of pet programs that have nothing to do with the basics of reading, writing, math, science...etc. And I bet a lot of readers did not either, because we all assumed they were reality-based. Homeless is living on the streets or in a shelter, things like that. If you share housing with others that's homeless? Trailer park? That's not homeless. One out of SEVEN?? Really? No way that's accurate school board/district people. No way!

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