State had more than 27K homeless students last year

OLYMPIA — State education officials say the number of homeless students continues to rise.

More than 27,000 students were reported as homeless in the 2011-12 school year. That number is up about 5 percent from 2010-11 and up nearly 47 percent from the beginning of the recession.

Districts blame the still struggling job market, the closing of factories and cuts in funding for programs that prevent homelessness for the growing problem in Washington public schools.

Districts also say that better reporting and more awareness have led to more accurate numbers. According to the federal law on homeless students, a student is considered homeless if he or she doesn’t have a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence. That includes living in a shelter, a car or another kind of temporary housing.

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