A program in the Toledo Public Schools district that aims to turn schools into neighborhood centers has expanded and is adding community partners.
Members of the Leverette Elementary community have selected the YMCA/JCC of Greater Toledo to run a “community hub” at the North Toledo school, said Greg Braylock, Jr., community impact specialist at the United Way of Greater Toledo. Meanwhile, the program, which is a partnership between TPS and the United Way, has doubled the number of schools included.
Announced in May as “schools as community hubs,” the program partners TPS schools with nonprofit groups that provide services such as medical and dental care, social services, or after-school programs. The United Way agreed to pay for the implementation and housing of the programs at two pilot schools — Leverette and Robinson elementary schools. Since then, the program has expanded to Pickett Academy and Scott High School, paid for through a federal grant.
It costs about $100,000 to provide the hub program at each school.
The YMCA/JCC was chosen by a Leverette review team, which included Principal Angie Duckworth, the teacher building representative, a parent, and a United Way volunteer. The organization was one of four that bid for the spot, beating out United North.
Mark Brunsman, YMCA/JCC vice president of operations, said what the school’s hub will look like depends on what the community demands. “We are pretty much allowing the community to help us decide that,” Mr. Brunsman said. “We are trying to come in without any preconceived vision.”
Under the hub program, lead partner organizations must hire a hub coordinator, who determines community needs and brings in other service providers to the school. Ms. Duckworth said she foresees possible after-school programs for children, GED classes for parents, and health services for the community. She cited community school programs in Syracuse, N.Y., that offered volunteer dentist services to community members out of schools.
A hub director should be hired at Leverette by the winter break; major programs will take time to roll out, but small projects could start immediately.
The school developed a meals program that sends backpacks full of food home with children. The new hub director’s first job likely will be expanding that to as many children as possible, Mr. Braylock said.
The hub schools — which coincide with the move by TPS to K-8 schools — have been placed in neighborhoods where schools have historically had trouble engaging parents.
The hope is that with services provided in school, parents will become accustomed to the buildings, familiar with staff, and ultimately be more tied to the success of the school.
Lavada Griswold , a Leverette parent who was on the hub review committee, said she’s excited for the program and thinks others in the neighborhood will back the hub as they grow more accustomed to Leverette as a K-8, neighborhood school. “It will give the community somewhere to go, and it opens the school up later than three o’clock,” she said. “The school actually becomes part of a community, like it’s supposed to be.”
Lead partners at the three other hub schools — all in the Scott community — will be decided by the first week of December.
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