Kansas City, Kansas School District’s Board of Education will meet Tuesday, June 12, at 5 p.m.
Tonight board members will devote most of their agenda to routine responsibilities of governance such as renewing a contract with a housing agency serving homeless students and considering an agreement allowing the Fairfax Industrial District to use some additional tax revenues for improvements to attract new businesses. In addition, they will consider adding mental health services to offerings at the two school-based health clinics they established earlier this year.
If signed, the agreement would allow clinic staff to help students get mental health care that would help them be more successful academically. Most of the students at the two schools where the clinics are located have families living in poverty and so do not have easy access to mental health services. Untreated health issues often make it difficult for students to learn.
Clinic staff would help identify students in need of mental health services, refer students to community health care providers and offer a program that has proven successful in treating children attending urban schools who are suffering from trauma. Some types of trauma these children experience include witnessing or being a victim of violence or suffering physical abuse. As part of this program, students would learn how to challenge upsetting thoughts, process traumatic grief and memories, relax and solve social problems. Parents and teachers would also receive education through this program.
When buildings offer non-academic services such as mental health care, they are functioning as community schools. And research has shown that community school services can help raise educational levels for students living in poverty. According to urban education expert Jessica Shiller, many education reform efforts focus only on academics ignoring problems of poverty.
“Venture philanthropists have argued that poverty should not be an excuse for low student achievement,” she wrote in an article in the May issue of the Phi Delta Kappan magazine. “But recognizing poverty as an obstacle is not the same as using it as an excuse. Plenty of initiatives acknowledge poverty and try to address it alongside school improvement.”
Tonight’s meeting, which is open to the public, will take place in the board room of the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools Central Office and Training Center; 2010 N. 59th Street; Kansas City, KS 66104. The next meeting will take place Tuesday, June 26.
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