District launches “Communities in Schools of Benton-Franklin Counties”

November 19, 2014

The Richland School District announces a new regional collaboration to help children be successful and stay in school. It’s a partnership with Communities in Schools (CIS)-the nation’s leading dropout prevention organization.
The CIS mission states “Communities in Schools surrounds students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.” According to the CIS web site, site coordinators helped over 63,000 Washington students overcome barriers to success, and stay on track to graduate last year.

“Our collaboration with Communities in Schools is based upon feedback from principals that, although we have quality teachers and academic supports, the scope of need in our community around accessing services ranging from basic living needs to mental health support is sharply on the rise,” explains Assistant Superintendent Erich Bolz. “And our demographics are changing. The number of Richland School District students qualifying for free/reduced lunch has risen from 20% in 1999 to 34% currently. Continued academic achievement growth will not occur unless we tangibly address the growing scope of nonacademic issues that confront many RSD students.”

The District and CIS are partnering to hire nine site coordinators. Christie Funkhouser is one of the first to be hired. “Christie recently completed some excellent work obtaining vouchers from Goodwill for RSD families in extreme poverty,” adds Bolz. “This is one example of the kind of work that will occur regularly as our Communities in Schools initiative takes off.”  “The site coordinators will coordinate the provision of social services and this will allow teachers to focus on providing academic instruction,” says Funkhouser.

All nine site coordinators will be hired by January. The sites are: Hanford High, Richland High, River’s Edge, Badger Mountain/Sacajawea, Jason Lee, Jefferson, Lewis & Clark, Marcus Whitman, and Tapteal.

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