City Design and Funding of School Social Services
Perhaps the best education practice that Mayor Norman Rice has introduced in Seattle is the city role in designing and funding most of the social services available in our schools. The decision to play a more active role in school-based social services for students and families has led to a much more comprehensive city/district relationship and has also meant a much tighter service delivery system for our families.
The highlights of the city-funded school-based system are family support workers in elementary schools, teen health clinics in high schools, after-school programs for middle school students, peer mediation training for staff and students at both middle and high schools, and volunteer coordination assistance in most schools.
As a result of the increased services in schools, teachers have more time to actually teach because they are spending less time finding needed assistance for students and families. The teen health centers have reduced the number of days high school students are absent and have greatly increased teen access to health care. The after-school programs for middle school students have created a variety of learning opportunities and 40 percent of the students report a greater attachment to their school as a result. Peer mediation has helped schools involve students in reducing school violence and continues to be rated as an effective tool by students. Volunteer coordination assistance has helped schools recruit and organize volunteers and sponsor more events for parents and students.
As a result of the city funding more school-based social services, the Seattle School District has been able to increase staffing in 23 elementary schools, and we are seeing significant achievement gains in reading, math and language in many of those schools. The city/district relationship has improved and we are now considering how we can come together for consolidated long term planning and increased sharing of our facilities. We are also seeing a marked reduction in our school violence and disruption incidence rates. The 1995-96 school year has produced a 10-year low in the number of school disciplinary actions, including suspensions and interventions.
Contact: Office of the Mayor, (206) 684-4000
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright ©1996, U.S. Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.