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Community Learning Centers vital to comprehensive school safety plan proposed by coalition

“Freshman year in Texas I would spend most of my time in in-school suspension. When I arrived at North Star High School sophomore year I was treated with respect and dignity...I wanted to be treated this way more often, so I began exploring Community Learning Center (CLC) programs. I met so many teachers and students that were inspiring and motivated to make a better future, I wanted to be just as motivated. I began joining every CLC program to surround myself with more of these people.”

Those words belong to Rueben Aguilar, who graduated from Lincoln North Star High School in 2017. Lincoln Board of Education member Kathy Danek read Rueben’s words aloud Wednesday at the Northeast Lincoln YMCA, where a group of city and Lincoln Public Schools leaders gathered to further emphasize the role that CLCs can play in ensuring the safety and success of LPS students.

“We do best when we do things together and that’s the message of our Community Learning Centers,” Danek said. “They help families thrive and strengthen neighborhoods. They are a true collaboration of the schools, the neighborhoods, the families and non-profit partners, all working together to develop our children. That collaboration reaches into every neighborhood.”

The city’s 26 current CLCs support schools in the development and implementation of safe, supervised before- and after-school programs, weekend and summer enrichment opportunities and other support services for children, families and neighborhood residents.

CLCs are one part of a recently proposed collaborative effort between the city and LPS: the Safe and Successful Kids Community Coalition. The coalition has proposed a multifaceted, comprehensive school safety plan that covers increased security, mental health resources and proactive measures - such as increased programming at CLCs.

“Our Community Learning Centers are a critical component of this plan,” said City Council member Carl Eskridge. “They’re not just a babysitting service, they’re a place to grow leaders.”

LPS Security Director Joe Wright underlined the positive impact of CLCs, then stressed the importance of a comprehensive school safety plan, such as the one proposed by the community coalition.

“It’s not just the school resource officers, it’s not just threat assessment, it’s not just the CLCs and mental health, it’s everything put together that creates a synergy - it creates a safer community,” Wright said. “It’s progressive, it’s smart and it provides a hopeful outlook for our community.”

Lincoln Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister recently returned from a national meeting of mayors and police chiefs, where they discussed the issue of community and school safety. He said he came away from the meeting even more confident in the plan laid out by the Safe and Successful Kids Community Coalition.

“We aren’t just talking. We’re taking action.”

 

FACTS about the Safe and Successful Kids Community Coalition: 

The city of Lincoln and Lincoln Public Schools are coming together with the community goal of: Safe and Successful Kids in our Community.  To meet this goal, they are proposing multifaceted, comprehensive action that covers increased security, mental health resources and proactive measures.

What this initiative would fund:

  • Protective measures: Establish additional School Resource Officers to cover LPS middle and elementary schools, and one additional threat assessment officer ($390,000).
  • Preventive measures: Increase mental health services with one additional LPS social worker and additional student therapist services ($400,000).
  • Proactive measures: Increase leadership and staff at Community Learning Centers (CLCs) to provide a safe place for students before and after school as well as academic and enrichment opportunities that lead to success for students; and enhanced learning opportunities focused on STEAM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) for CLC clubs and after school activities ($1,210,000).  

What is a JPA:

  • A new political subdivision created between existing sub-divisions that serves the purpose of supporting and overseeing a unique effort – with a shared mission.
  • In this case, a response to address unique challenges where two sub-divisions have shared and integrated interests.
  • A JPA has a separate operating board made up of elected officials from both sub-divisions (the city and school district).

Funding:

  • This initiative will generate an estimated $2 million in the first year of existence with a 1-cent city property tax levy.


Published: April 11, 2018, Updated: April 26, 2018

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