schools, having fled Hurricane Katrina to stay with their extended
families in Orange County. With local churches and nonprofits
continuing to shuttle survivors out of the southern states, district
spokeswoman Jane Garland expected the number to rise into double
digits before long.
"They may be here forever," Garland said. "We don't know. Each
one's with relatives at the moment, and it's up to the relatives."
Under the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, passed
in 1987, school districts must give homeless students the same access
to services as children with consistent homes. In this case, those
services included transportation, healthcare, school supplies and a
welcoming breakfast and lunch -- all on campuses that most of the
newcomers had never heard of a week ago.
While Newport-Mesa served as an emergency stop for some this week,
for others it merely provided an extra level of luxury. A number of
campuses in the district sported new facilities Tuesday following
summer construction that was funded by Measure A.
Costa Mesa High School, which ended its work in July, had a new
ceiling, a new floor and new lights in its administration building,
clean tiles in the bathrooms, additional lab tables in the science
rooms, and a sensor in the library.
"We had a terrific off-season," said principal John Garcia.
Students expressed relief at being finished with the Measure A
construction, which made walking around campus, and even
concentrating in class, difficult at times.
"It was horrible," said freshman Patty McCoy, 14, who attended the
school's junior high last year. "All the construction was bad because
it was really noisy. It was super-noisy."
Other schools finished with some or all of their renovations were
Pomona, Paularino, Adams and California elementary schools and
TeWinkle Middle School. The sites removed most of their portable
classrooms as teachers and students moved back into newly furnished
During recess Tuesday, California Elementary principal Kelli Smith
surveyed the campus with its repainted buildings and new playground