Rochester Community Schools Beneficial, Educators Say

November 15, 2016 11:09 AM

(ABC 6 News) -- As Rochester grows and changes so does it's schools. There's a concept, new to the area called "community schools" working to break down barriers to learning. It's getting support from the state and community organizations as well.



"The community school definition is that it's both a place and set of partnerships that are somewhat co-located at the same site. So really, using our schools for more than they're used now," said Julie Ruzek with RPS.


Right now, Riverside and Gage elementary schools are receiving funding as "community schools."


"We have nine elementary school sties that receive title one funding and they are two of our neediest title one sites," said Ruzek.


Ruzek said more than 70 percent of students are on free and reduced lunch at the two schools. Now, being a "community school" can help address student needs.


 In both schools, a family resource room is providing food, clothing, a computer and printer, laundry and school supplies and more.


"Those things can be a lot to weigh on a little mind if they aren't in place when they come to school," said Jessica Marquardt with RPS.


It is funded through a Minnesota Department of Education grant. 132 thousand dollars goes to each school for each school year, along with help from the United Way.


"School has to change. We can't continue the model from the early 1900s to see our students be successful," said Marquardt.


Right now, Gage and Riverside elementary schools are the only two schools funded; however, Rochester's Alternative Learning center also received a grant for the program.


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