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Detroit Adds 21 Community School Sites

Twenty-one schools in Detroit will now remain open 12 hours a day, seven days a week, providing more than just K-12 education for students, the district announced recently.

The 21 schools are shifting to a "community schools" model, or sites that provide wraparound services like health care, parenting classes, and digital resources for students and their families.

Each school site is also getting a coordinator who will work with school staff to determine what services to provide and how best to leverage local partnerships to do so; all selected schools already have some existing community partnerships in place, reports the district.

Also in community schools news, Communities in Schools, an organization that works with schools and localities to implement community school models, has announced the 2013 winners of its excellence awards.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, N.C.; Kalamazoo, Mich.; Charleston, S.C.; and Wayne County, Ind., were recognized as leading communities, and schools in Washington state, Nevada, Texas, South Carolina, and North Carolina were named as top community school sites for their "exemplary work in the schools and communities where they are making a difference."

Education Week's Commentary section also has a piece out this week on community schools. According to authors Cheryl D. Hayes, president of the Finance Project, a research organization, and Richard R. Buery Jr., president and CEO of the Children's Aid Society in New York, at least 50 cities have established systems of community schools that serve more than 5.1 million students. They attribute the model to helping schools improve graduation rates and reduce achievement gaps.

In addition to referencing the positive effects of two community schools in New York, the authors say community schools can provide a $10.30 return on every dollar spent at the elementary level and a $14.80 return at the intermediate level—what they view as a cost-effective investment for districts and communities to make.

"Education reform clearly needs a new direction," the opinion piece says. "In an era of tight budgets and growing public skepticism, community schools are an investment lead worth pursuing."

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