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City Council Holds Hearing On How School District Can Expand Social Services To Include Students’ Families

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(Karyn Lynch of the School District of Philadelphia testifes before City Council.  Image from City of Phila. TV)

(Karyn Lynch of the School District of Philadelphia testifes before City Council. Image from City of Phila. TV)

Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn is City Hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060. He covers...
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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Even as the cash-starved Philadelphia School District struggles to avoid more layoffs, City Council held a rare summer hearing to look at whether the district could expand its non-academic services to include families of students.

The hearing was focused on expanding “community-based schooling,” in which social services that are normally offered in government offices are instead available at neighborhood schools.

Among those pushing the idea was City Council President Darrell Clarke:

“Why don’t we take every school in the city of Philadelphia, and figure out a way to have the appropriate services, not just for the children but actually for the family. Because guess what — if people get more engaged with their schools, they’re going to care about that school, and I think it will improve the educational opportunity for that young person.”

Speaking for the school district was Karyn Lynch, Chief of Student Support Services. She said two schools currently have adopted the community-based model:

“Much of what this model proposes is in the works right now, so please join that effort.”

Clarke was not satisfied with that response. “I’m happy that you have two out of 270 schools that you’re applying this model. But to suggest somehow that that’s even remotely close to being sufficient, with all due respect, is just not something that any of us are interested in hearing.”

Lynch said to expand that without new funding would an expensive proposition at a time when the district is struggling simply to make ends meet:

“In implementing that model, the dollars will have to come from somewhere. It would be like taking from Peter to pay Paul because all of our dollars are appropriated in certain ways.”

Lynch said one particular model for community-based schooling in other cities costs about $80,000 a year per school. “The $80,000 has to come from somewhere.”

Agencies that might work with the district including the Department of Human Services and Community Behavioral Health.

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