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TACSI Inspires Springfield, MO Community Schools

3/31/2012 -- School officials from Springfield, Missouri recently visited Tulsa to learn from the successes of CSC's Tulsa Area Community Schools Initiative (TACSI). Here are excerpts from a news story about their experiences.

TULSA — Much higher test scores.

Happy kids who are excited to learn.

Supportive parents involved in decision-making.

That’s what “community schools” have achieved in some of Tulsa’s poorest neighborhoods. Now, Springfield hopes it can happen here.

The concept — which leverages the resources of community groups to meet the needs of families — has been catching fire nationally.

Local school officials, who have been searching for an approach that will make a huge difference in the lives of the Springfield’s most at-risk children, traveled to Tulsa to see the idea in action. They left convinced it could be the answer.

“I see the need here like we had the need there,” said Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams, who witnessed the impact of community schools during his 28 years with the Tulsa Police Department. “It was wonderful for bringing resources together in a spot where families are every day.”

Tulsa’s community schools saw tremendous results when they threw open their doors to families, took a hard look at what was keeping kids from learning and found creative ways to meet those needs.

They established community gardens, on-site medical clinics and grocery stores. They provided food, tutoring, after school clubs and parenting classes.

Williams said community schools meet immediate needs while building relationships that strengthen families, prevent crime and improve the chances for children who will become tomorrow’s workforce.

“It helped the community face all the challenges that it had. Instead of going to six different places to get what they needed, they went to where their children already were,” said Williams, who has expressed his support to Superintendent Norm Ridder. “It was amazing the feeling it gave people … Everybody bought into it.”

Last week, Springfield announced it would pilot the concept at Robberson Elementary during the upcoming year.
School officials here plan to use what they saw in Tulsa — and researched elsewhere — to try to transform the north Springfield neighborhood where nine of 10 kids comes from a family that straddles the poverty line.

The news story, and links to related information about community schools

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