Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

City Schools Chief Eyes Better Social Services for Students and Families

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

City Schools Chief Eyes Better Social Services for Students and Families

Article excerpt

The concept of using school buildings to house social services for students and their families, long studied in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, is moving closer to reality.

Superintendent Anthony Hamlet has called implementing "community schools" in the district one of his top priorities, and it's among the short-term goals the school board set for him.

"I see community schools as, number one, for our children, to make sure they get supports they need," he said in a recent interview. "But also, if we're not beginning to support our parents in our community, then we send the kids right back into a possible environment [in which] they can forget some of the things they learned."

The school board passed a community schools policy in July, and approved the hiring of a full-time community schools coordinator in December. A 26-member committee made up of foundation, government, union and community representatives developed the application for schools, due Friday.

The board will vote to designate certain school buildings as community schools at its March 21 meeting.

The district asked the schools seeking the title to provide information on absenteeism, suspensions, students with disabilities, percentage of students who are English-language learners and existing partners that provide services at the school. The application also will consider "how violence, poverty and health conditions in the community where the school is located might affect students and their families."

In Pittsburgh Public's "designated" community schools, an on-site employee will coordinate programs and services provided through community organizations based on the school's needs. In later phases of the program, "full service" community schools will serve as social service hubs for the neighborhood and offer services such as adult education and medical and dental care. …

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