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Caldwell and Nampa school districts are looking into incorporating “community schools” into their districts.

A community school is an accessible location, often a school building, that brings community resources in areas like health care and social services under one roof to provide community members easier access to the resources.

After considering implementing a community school into the district in September, the Caldwell school district is working with United Way of Treasure Valley and the city of Caldwell to launch Sacajawea Elementary School as a community school this fall.

Nampa school district officials are researching community schools and are considering creating one in a Nampa school.

COMING TO CALDWELL

At the September school district board of trustees meeting, Nora Carpenter, president and CEO of United Way of Treasure Valley, presented to the idea of a community school in Caldwell.

Some trustees questioned if the community school was necessary, because the district already had partnerships established with community resources.

Carpenter said schools are often associated with being a community resource, so utilizing one as such would be beneficial. The focus is to provide students and community members with connections to necessary resources, such as health care options and food supplies.

Services offered are adapted to meet the needs of the local community and aligned to support academic outcomes. Community schools include neighborhood outreach, programming and data sharing between the school and community partners.

Both districts discussed funding for the schools, particularly how much the school district would have to contribute. A paid position of a site coordinator was also discussed for both districts. Grant options are being explored in Nampa.

“At United Way, we are excited to collaborate with the city of Caldwell and the Caldwell school district to launch a community school strategy that meets the needs of Caldwell children, their families and the surrounding neighborhood,” Carpenter said in a press release.

COMING TO NAMPA?

Nampa school district board trustee Janelle Stauffer and director of secondary education Scott Parker presented their findings on community schools at the May board of trustees meeting.

Stauffer and Parker said they, along with several others, visited a school district in Vancouver that has a community school.

Parker said the intent was to see how a community school affects the entire district. He said the intent of a community school is to remove barriers impeding student success and to help families by informing them of resources for all family members.

Like Caldwell, the Nampa school district already has some partnerships with community resources in place, like with St. Luke’s, but more can be done for community members. One area both districts would like to expand is strategies to increase literacy.

The district plans to continue looking into establishing a community school.

Stauffer said she heard that there were significant gains in student achievement from community schools.

“(They) benefited all students,” she said. “And what (that) did was elevate students in poverty significantly.”

Alx George is the IPT education reporter. Contact her at 465-8178 or ageorge@idahopress.com. Follow @missalxgeorge.

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