Posted on April 27, 2015

Madison School District Eyes ‘Full-Service’ Schools to Serve Community Needs

Molly Beck, Wisconsin State Journal, April 24, 2015

Four Madison schools could soon leave their doors open far beyond the school day to bring services like doctor checkups, extra help with homework, parenting help and meals to students and their families.

A $300,000 grant paid over the next three years from the Madison Community Foundation will begin the process of developing “full-service” community schools in the Madison School District.

“Our goal is to raise student achievement for all and narrow and close achievement gaps but we cannot do it on our own,” superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said Thursday. “By better coordinating our efforts (and) creating a quilt of strong neighborhood centers with strong, full-service community schools, we’ll be able to make sure that the families that need coordinated services can actually get them.”

The community school model is used in school districts across the country in an effort to address more than just academic needs of children, according to the Urban Strategies Council, and is especially used in areas with high poverty with neighborhood residents and families that may have poor access to health care services or meals.

The U.S. Department of Education also offers millions of dollars in grants to nine organizations in six states that operate such schools.

There are about 5,000 such schools nationally and internationally, though the exact number is difficult to pinpoint because of the variety of ways a school can offer the model, according to the Coalition for Community Schools.