Communities In Schools (CIS) places student support specialists on-site at each of the five Sea Island public schools. These specialists make a huge difference in the lives of young island students too often lacking access to basic needs, including food, clothing and shelter. These student advocates go beyond typical school involvement, addressing behavioral, developmental and emotional risk factors, in addition to educational. However, district funding losses and decreased federal Title I funding threaten to leave an already vulnerable population even more at risk.
KCF has worked directly with student support specialists for five years and has seen firsthand the significant difference they make to children and families, along with their creativity in harnessing community resources. The loss of these specialists would be crippling to a struggling demographic.
The student support program addresses many factors that influence a child’s academic success. Student support specialists, who all have degrees in education, social work or counseling fields, focus on supporting the basic and behavioral needs that help allow children to learn and teachers to teach.
CIS regional statistics show a reason to be optimistic. During the 2015-16 school year, the following outcomes were achieved based on approximately 950 students who received student support services:
• 98% were promoted to the next grade level
• 98% of seniors graduated
• 73% of seniors enrolled in college; 6% in military service, and 21% entered the work force
• 75% maintained adequate or improved attendance
• 82% improved Math scores
• 86% improved Reading scores
• 93% improved or maintained positive behavior
Working with each school’s administration, CIS develops an annual site plans that prioritizes the support needs of the population. Students identified to be at the highest risk are case-managed and offered a wealth of scientifically-proven protective services to counter the negative challenges they may face, including:
Offerings also include parenting programs and bullying prevention.
The cost to keep a student support specialist in a school for a year is about $70,000 per school, a worthwhile investment given the CIS track record. With just over three months remaining before the 2017-2018 school year begins, CIS anticipates a shortfall at two of the five Sea Island schools, with a gap of about $30,000 per school. Funds directed to CIS during Kiawah Giving Month will help fund these essential positions at Angel Oak Elementary and St. John’s High School, with a target goal is of $10,000 per school.