CISMBC executive director Sandy Baxter tells BOE members about the Full Service Community Schools grant received by her organization during Tuesday’s meeting. The federal funding will allow for an increase in CISMBC’s services and also seek to increase literacy among K-2 students and parental involvement. 

A new grant to be received by Communities in Schools of Milledgeville-Baldwin County (CISMBC) will seek to increase student success by boosting services in a few key areas.

The funding, totaling $2.5 million over the next five years from the U.S. Department of Education’s Full Service Community Schools (FSCS) grant, will create Wraparound Baldwin, a new program aimed at increasing CISMBC’s impact by improving literacy among K-2 students and also the level of parental involvement in the community.

“Full Service Community Schools provides comprehensive academic, social and health services for students, students' family members, and community members that will result in improved educational outcomes for children,” said Sandy Baxter, CISMBC executive director, while addressing the Baldwin County Board of Education during Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting. 

Outside of CISMBC and the Baldwin County School District, other key partners to Wraparound Baldwin include Georgia College, Baldwin Family Connection, Central Georgia Technical College, the Milledgeville Housing Authority, and the Twin Lakes Library System. All services created through the grant will be in addition to those already provided by Communities in Schools of Milledgeville-Baldwin County. According to a Georgia College press release, the U.S. Department of Education received 121 applications for the FSCS grant, but only 15 were funded. 

Students of need enrolled at Lakeview Primary and Midway Hills Primary will be the main beneficiaries of the newly-announced grant funding. A total of three positions will be created. A Wraparound Baldwin program coordinator along with one site coordinator at each of the two primary schools will be hired in the coming months to oversee the services created by the new initiative. Since increasing literacy among younger students is a main focus, those identified will receive additional tutoring and also two books per month so they can start their own home libraries to promote reading once the school day is over. 

This new grant funding from the U.S. DOE will seek to create a direct impact outside of school as well by finding “neighborhood leaders” that will be charged with increasing parental engagement in schools.

“The idea behind this is to identify neighborhoods where we don’t have a lot of parental involvement,” Baldwin County School Superintendent Dr. Noris Price. “We’ll identify a parent in that community who will be trained as a leader who would then build the capacity of the parents in that community to be engaged in the educational process.”

Those neighborhood leaders will be trained and also asked to help bridge communication between the schools and the community. They will also oversee two events per month, and be paid for their services according to the superintendent. 

“I think it’s a very innovative approach to developing community leaders to help up increase the parental involvement, especially with those parents that are reluctant for many different reasons,” Price added. “We’re very excited about this component, and those parent leaders will be paid a stipend for taking on that leadership role.”

“We have a very strong partnership with Communities in Schools, so it’s very exciting to be expanding those services,” she would say later near the end of the presentation. “To bring $2.5 million to our community also impacts the economic development because we’re creating additional jobs as a result.”

Additionally, the funding also calls for the creation of a school-based health clinic that Baxter says will not only be available to Baldwin County students.

“This will be available not only to students, but also to parents, community members, and staff,” the CISMBC director said. “We’re very excited to have a full-service clinic housed in the Early Learning Center. The ELC is a perfect place because it has that section already built with this in mind. We’re really excited about being able to help provide that.”

An outside party will oversee operation of the clinic, and it is set to have a “soft launch” over the summer as it will be open a couple of days a week at the start. 

“This is an exciting opportunity for our community, so thanks for all that you’ve done to get this going,” Board Chair Dr. Gloria Wicker said to Baxter. 

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