CT Illustration Community Schools

The Madison Metropolitan School District could continue its expansion of the Community Schools program as soon as the 2021-22 school year.

School Board members will receive an update on the program, which offers expanded services at four schools to help serve as a “hub” to their surrounding community, at a Monday Instruction Work Group meeting beginning at 5 p.m. at the Doyle Administration Building.

MMSD began its Community Schools program in 2016-17 at Leopold and Mendota elementary schools, expanding it to Lake View and Hawthorne in the 2018-19 school year. The schools ask parents, students and neighborhood residents to help identify school issues and find solutions to address them. The district website defines them as “a welcoming and inclusive place that builds on the assets of the community to help serve the identified needs of the students, families and community through well integrated and coordinated, strategic partnerships.”

Each of the four schools has a Community Schools Resource Coordinator staff position that helps organize the additional services and events.

Monday’s presentation from staff will review the implementation at the first four schools, introduce new members of the Community Schools team, discuss scaling the project and propose a timeline for future expansion.

According to a memo included with meeting materials, staff plans to update the board again in October or November of this year and ask the board to consider approving an expansion, which would begin in the 2021-22 school year.

Staff will review data this summer and “determine other schools that possess conditions ideal” for the Community Schools approach, the memo states. By June, they hope to answer the questions: Is it working? Have we achieved our metrics for success? And who is it working for?

The Community Schools initiative began with a $300,000 grant from the Madison Community Foundation to explore the idea. MCF awarded a $1.1 million challenge grant to the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools in May 2018, with FMPS required to raise the same amount of money itself. According to a memo, it’s currently at $500,000 with just under four years until the Dec. 31, 2023, end of the grant.

The grant provides $220,000 each year toward the Community Schools program.

During the last round of expansion, 19 schools were invited to apply for the program and three ended up applying. During the initial implementation, 22 schools were identified as fits for the program and 10 applied.

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Scott Girard is the local k-12 education reporter at the Cap Times. A Madison native, he joined the paper in 2019 after working for six years for Unified Newspaper Group. Follow him on Twitter @sgirard9.