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Local Families, Faculties Eye ‘Community Schools’ To Improve Educational System

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A group of teachers and child advocates is hoping to bring a new type of education not just to local kids, but also their families. A group of teachers and child advocates is hoping to bring a new type of education not just to local kids, but also their families.
DEL CITY, Oklahoma -

A group of teachers and child advocates is hoping to bring a new type of education not just to local kids, but also their families.

The community school model has seen success in places like Tulsa, Oakland and New York. Local leaders believe it could be one answer to the state’s budgetary and educational concerns.  

On Tuesday, teachers, parents and business partners gathered at Del City's Epperly Heights Elementary School to learn how this idea could work for them.

In addition to educating students, community schools also provide healthcare, English language learning and other services for adults, as well as family-bonding activities. Instead of taxpayers footing the bill, however, the service providers partner with the schools themselves.

“When we see communities wrap around schools, we see attendance improve, we see graduation rates improve and eventually we start looking at literacy rates and test scores that start improving,” said Erin Velez, program manager for the Center for Community School Strategies in Tulsa.

Right now, Edgemere Elementary is the Oklahoma City area's only community school.

Epperly Heights is already home to a food pantry and coat closet for students in need. Del City councilwoman and small business owner Pamela Finch agrees it takes a village to raise a child.

She said, “We need to support our kids and our schools. That’s our basis, our foundation for our communities, let alone our future.”

Those who have seen other community schools in action are believers. That is why organizers say more and more communities are putting the idea into practice.

“It’s because people are realizing schools cannot do this work on their own,” Velez said. “They have to have partnerships to make it happen.”

To learn more about the community school initiatives across the nation, click here.

To learn more about Tulsa’s Center for Community School Strategies, click here.

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