Monday, August 26, 2002

Covington schools open doors to community

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON - Covington schools soon will be opening their doors in the evenings and on weekends in an effort to make the low-performing district more of a community focal point.

        Covington school officials say they want to encourage greater community involvement in school activities and increase use of facilities.

        “Our school board has shown by a unanimous vote its commitment to open all of our schools as community schools,” district spokesman Bill Weathers said. “The board and administration of this district have come to believe that our success in fulfilling our mission of educating these girls and boys hinges on our forming true partnerships with our students' parents and other community members, including members of the business community.”

        Community schools are based on the concept that schools should be more than just a place where children learn. They should also be a hub of community activities.

        The idea has been in practice on a smaller scale at some of Covington's schools, but this year the idea will be adopted in each school. The schools will stay open until 9 p.m. or longer, and on Saturdays. A start date has not been established.

        The community schools concept is already under way on a limited scale in Cincinnati Public Schools.

        “We're moving toward doing that in all our schools,” CPS spokeswoman Chris Wolff said. “It's part of our facilities master plan, which is a 10-year plan that will either rebuild or fully modernize every one of our buildings. The idea will be, in every case possible, to create community learning centers out of our schools.”

        In Covington, community schools will not be just a place where parents drop off their kids, but where family participation is encouraged, said Darla Payne, a community schools specialist.

        Activities will include karate, dance, cooking and sports. Community members are being surveyed about desired activities.


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