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Community creates new learning center to help students connect with their teachers

Learning center
John Palminteri
A solution for students who aren't able to learn remotely at home has been created on the Santa Barbara Eastside in the form of a learning center inside a church hall.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Not every student learning at home is able to do so with a few clicks on a computer. A solution on the Santa Barbara Eastside has come in the form of a learning center, now open, right across from Franklin Elementary school.

"Some of these kids were not even logging on.  They weren't going to school basically," said Santa Barbara City Councilmember Alejandra Gutierrez.
With remote learning challenges, comes solutions before the school years gets too far along and some students get too far behind.

This newest site is at the Second Baptist Church on the Santa Barbara Eastside, and is an alternative to space at home,  if there is any. 
Claudia St. George works at the church and helped to coordinate the learning center.   She says it is an environment that's much different than many homes."Some parents they have two, three kids, some  five and they don't have enough wi fi at home  or the space is not big enough  because they have the headphones they have to communicate with their teachers. "

This project was a collaboration,  when some of the kids were seen inside cars at the school nearby just to use the wi fi nearby.

Right now about 20 show up, ranging from elementary to high school students.
The learning center is conveniently located just a few steps away right across Mason St. where Franklin school is located.

Tutors are also at the site when the doors open at 8 each morning to check homework and get the day started.
St George says, "sometimes they will be lost where their page is or exactly what their teacher is asking from them."

Especially for the youngest students, it's a solid learning environment, compared to home.

Javier Renteria is a fifth grader who says the center is better than his study area at home.   "Because there is no one to help  me and here I can just ask for help and they will help me."

Nearby Gabriel Hoyas comes to the center with some family members."Being at home is noisy .   Here it is quieter,"   he said.

A learning center assistant Dulce Lopez said,    "Yea it's fun to see them learning, they ask me 'how do you pronounce this word?'   I say let's take our time, let's sound it out. They can get it, they get excited    It's a good time."

The project helps some of the need to take care of the students but not all of it.   "I realize even with my hat a a school district employee and even as a city council member yes we're doing we're doing a lot, but the problem is still there," said Gutierrez.

The program has more demand that it has space.
Gutierrez says, "the school district has provided lunches,  and the word is getting out in the community that this learning center exists.  We have a waiting list now."

She says an effort is underway to open other centers. Gutierrez said, "they're going to open a center at Elings park,  and hopefully the City of Santa Barbara will open one of their parks to work with  Just Communities  to open one of these learning centers."

Coronavirus / Health / Lifestyle / Safety / Santa Barbara- S County

John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3 and KCOY 12 Central Coast News.