Local schools to help parents after NASA layoffs

CLEAR LAKE, TX Hundreds of layoffs in the Clear Lake area are expected to begin October 1, and an area school district doing its best to make affected students continue at their days at school without interruption.

It's the largest employer in the Clear Lake area, but layoffs have already begun as the shuttle and constellation programs wind down, and hundreds more are expected for the month of October.

The effects have already begun to trickle down to area schools, especially within Clear Creek ISD, the largest district in the area.

"What is going to happen to the NASA employees, to the contractors? Where do we go from here?" asked resident Mike Miller.

At the start of this school year alone, almost 1,600 more students have qualified for subsidized lunches, and CCISD expects that number to climb; but the district is also preparing for help students beyond meals at lunch.

When a parent loses a job, principals say one of the first things to be cut from the family budget is extracurricular activities.

"One young lady was doing scrap booking and she came to me the other day. She said, 'Mrs. Carpentar, I have got to change my special interest activity, even though it's something I enjoy. I can't afford, I can't afford the product,'" said Susan Carpentar, Principal of Space Center Intermediate.

To meet the increased demand of students' needs, the district is getting the word out about its care program as more layoffs hit.

Under Clear Creek ISD's care program, lunches are subsidized as well as extracurricular activities. For any parents who must move out of the district because of mortgage problems, an exemption will be made to still attend their school within the district. It's already helped some Space Center Intermediate students.

"Yesterday she picked her stuff up, there was no incident, no word and today she is going to be participating in that special interest group," Carpentar said.

Employees working with NASA contractors say programs like this also help parents keep their focus during a stressful time.

"It will alleviate some of the pressure on those parents and allow them to continue to take care of their kids and continue to look for other work while they are in between," said Robert Green, USRA intern.

We are also told that as exit interviews begin with hundreds of NASA contractors, they will be given materials on how to utilize several other services available in the care program.

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