Brooklyn Center Superintendent: ‘Critical’ Need for Funding Full-Service Schools
Visit any school in any city and you’ll see things like students, laptops and books.
That’s certainly the case in Brooklyn Center, but there are a few things here that you’re not going to find in the vast majority of districts.
“We no longer have solely the responsibility to educate from an academic and curricular standpoint with our kiddos,” said Brooklyn Center Superintendent Carly Baker. “We have a responsibility to make sure their additional needs have been met.”
Baker is talking about the concept of the full-service community school. Brooklyn Center was the first such district in the state to adopt that model in 2009.
In a nutshell, it means that students have access to a variety of resources on site in the Health Resource Center.
If you’re sick, you can visit a doctor. Park Nicollet provides free walk-in medical services on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-5 p.m. If your teeth are bothering you, Children’s Dental Services provides a full range of restorative and preventative care.
And if you have issues with your mental health, services are provided by The Family Partnership, Arubah Emotional Health, North Psychology Clinic, Cornerstone MN, and POR – Emotional Wellness.
Those are just a few of the things available to every one of the students who either go to school here or live in Brooklyn Center.
“All of those pieces are that elevated tier of need,” Baker said. “And so if we can provide that in schools, it removes the barrier for our young people who may not have insurance, who may not have transportation.”
It’s an unprecedented level of outreach that they’re able to provide, yet everything comes with a price tag. All of these services cost about $630,000 this school year alone (most of which is paid for through grant money or provided in-kind by district partners.)
Yet with declining enrollment and fewer federal dollars rolling in, providing all of these resources is challenging.
“Without the ever-present funding stream of a community schools-focused funding, we have to take money from somewhere else in order to continue to fund and invest in our community schools focus,” Baker said.
Possible help at the legislative level
However, there could be help on the way at the Minnesota state Capitol.
State Rep. Samantha Vang, DFL-Brooklyn Center, is the author of a bill that would provide funding for full-service community schools.
“It’s $90 million funding,” Vang said in a recent interview with CCX News. “And really this model recognizes that student success requires that their needs are met both in and out of the classroom.”
If passed by the legislature, districts like Brooklyn Center would be able to apply for that money.
“So for Brooklyn Center, passing the legislation is critical,” Baker said.
Critical, she says, to ensure that the Brooklyn Center School District can continue providing these services without making cuts elsewhere.
“Our young people are counting on us,” Baker said.
Related: Newsmakers: Rep. Vang Advocates for Full-Service Community Schools