District Administration December2017 - 31
Community school districts team
with outside organizations to confront hunger,
healthcare and other barriers to learning
By Matt Zalaznick
t four elementary schools in Idaho's Boise School
District, families in need can go to specially designated community rooms to pick up food, clothing and other necessities. The assistance offered
goes even further: The community coordinator who staffs
each room can help families register for food stamps, unemployment, low-cost housing and other social services, says Lisa
Roberts, one of the district's area directors.
"Attendance is the main focus of our community schools-
achievement will come down the road," Roberts says. "We've
got to get the students here first and we've got to get them in
the mindset to learn."
Boise's community schools, and others like them across
the country, bring outreach and social services into neighborhood schools. Designed by local K12 leaders and organizations
such as the United Way, community schools keep students on
track by helping to overcome learning barriers such as hunger,
healthcare and family instability.
"What really keeps leaders up at night is when we know
there's a problem but don't know what to do about it because
it's outside of our skill set," says Superintendent Charles Johns
of West Chicago Elementary School District 33, which has
community school partnerships with about 60 organizations.
"All aspects of a family's life impact achievement, and now
we've got a way to help."
Attendance and ambition
In creating community schools, administrators often start with
one or two schools and then spread the concept to other buildings as educators realize the benefits and more community
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