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Boston schools to bolster services for homeless students

Boston Public Schools Superintendent Tommy Chang.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff/file

The Boston school system plans to launch a $1 million initiative to provide more services and support for the approximately 3,000 students who are experiencing homelessness.

The initiative is part of Superintendent Tommy Chang’s proposed budget for the next school year, which he is scheduled to present to the School Committee Wednesday night.

Each school will have the discretion to use its share of the money in the best way that addresses the specific situations of their homeless students. For instance, students might need help with tutoring, clothing, food, or transportation.

The initiative will also provide training for teachers, aides, and administrators on how to pick up on clues that students are homeless and find ways to help them and their families.


Amalio Nieves, the system’s assistant superintendent of social emotional learning and wellness, said Monday that with the $1 million investment the city “is making a commitment to one of the most vulnerable student populations.”

“We want to ensure that all students have access to a high-quality education,” Nieves said during a City Hall press briefing. “If we can boost up the resources that we can provide, then we are providing safe healthy supportive environments for these students that will translate into greater attendance, which then ultimately leads to greater academic achievement.”

Chang’s overall spending recommendation for the next school year will be disclosed Wednesday. Currently, the school system operates on a $1 billion annual budget.

During Monday’s briefing, city and school officials also said the district will continue to invest in an initiative that aims to replace the accelerated Advanced Work Classes so all students, instead of just those who tested into that program, can have access to a rigorous curriculum.

The investment in the Excellence For All initiative will increase by $715,000, to $2 million, and will go to 13 schools where the fourth-graders can continue with the program in the fifth grade next year.


“This will put them on a better pathway to academic success by instilling in them a true belief in their ability to take on challenging work,” Chang said in a statement.

Under Excellence For All, the diversity of students in classes has expanded. For instance, black and Hispanic students have 83 percent of the seats, compared to 35 percent in Advanced Work Classes.

School officials said the two initiatives were made possible by the promise of additional city funds by Mayor Martin J. Walsh.

James Vaznis can be reached atjames.vaznis@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter@globevaznis.