‘Full-service’ community schools get a closer look in Minnesota

February 11, 2019 | Austin Daily Herald

The front office at St. Paul Music Academy looks like most school offices. There’s a spot for the principal, the school nurse and the receptionist. But there’s also a dentist chair where students and their siblings can get needed dental care several times a month. The school also has a therapist, provides literacy tutoring, hosts a monthly food shelf, and operates a family center offering resources on housing, energy and other assistance.

It’s known as a full-service school, a place where education, health care, and other student and family needs are met under one roof. The model has been tried in a few school districts around Minnesota, including Faribault, Duluth and Rochester. It caught the attention of new Gov. Tim Walz, who praised the idea during last year’s campaign.

A bill in the Minnesota Senate now would put up $30 million over two years to expand full-service schools. A House bill would also put money toward community schools, along with funding school-linked mental health. House Democrats say they are working on another free-standing bill to fund the community-school model.

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