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Little Rock mayor expanding community schools program this year

Mayor Frank Scott announced the city will expand its community schools program in 2022.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Mayor Frank Scott Jr. spent part of his State of the City address on Monday night focusing on education. 

He announced a new Chief Education Officer as well as the expansion of community schools in the Little Rock School District

"I think that it's gonna really help once the students see that it's not just the teachers that are involved and care about what they're doing. We have everybody on board with building this circle," Mabelvale Middle School Principal Tonjuna Iverson said.

That's what a community school is all about, getting everyone involved. 

It's something Iverson has been eager to be a part of since it began.

"Any school needs the backing of a community, as you know, you want to build a strong parental base because once you have a good strong relationship with your parents, you have a good strong relationship with your students, and the students are successful," she said.

Iverson's school, Mabelvale Middle, and its feeder school, Mabelvale Elementary, are the two new community schools announced by Mayor Frank Scott Jr. on Monday night. 

Community School Coordinator Nicole Chandler said it's all about meeting the needs of students, families, and the community.

"Schools are a great place, but if we don't have the things in place for them to be able to get here and to enjoy it, than we're not fully serving our students," she said.

Community schools, according to Chandler, have filled that void by offering food pantries, on-campus health clinics, clothing closets, and more.

"The work is speaking for itself and more people are buying into the concept that we're not changing schools. We're not just closing them or doing anything negative. We're transforming our schools into powerful places that people want to be at," she said.

Chicot Elementary Principal Gina Khoury, has watched her school transform into that powerful place over the past year.

"I think we knew that we had the need but to see it in action, and to see those barriers removed or lessened has just been really powerful," she said.

Barriers that are going to be removed at more schools and expand the impact across the community.

"It's hard to imagine our school, not as a community school at this point. We've only been doing it now for a year and a half, but it's very much so a part of who we are," Khoury said.

Mabelvale Elementary and Middle Schools officially start their community school status in August.

    

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