Beginning with the 2012-13 school year, the Polk Alternative Education Center (PAEC) will serve as the site for multiple secondary special education programs in the Cedar Rapids Community School District. A new agreement approved by the Board of Education will also provide programming space at the building for Boys & Girls Club, Young Parents Network, and Tanager Place.
"The partnerships carry out the spirit of a neighborhood center dedicated to education and care for all those involved at the Polk Alternative Education Center," said Deb Scott, Associate Director of the PAEC. "It is exciting and energizing to be involved as a community dedicated to serving the needs of children and their families."
Boys & Girls Club will use three classroom areas for before and after school programming. As many as 150 children may participate, Monday through Friday. The agency will also provide all-day programming on non-school weekdays and throughout the summer. In addition to the classrooms, the organization will have access to the gymnasium and the outdoor play area.
"The reason we wanted to partner at Polk was to help families with the transition to their new schools," said John Tursi, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club. "Our concentration will start with the children and families in the Polk neighborhood."
Young Parents Network (YPN) will make use of classroom space throughout the building for Thursday evening young parent education programming. Day care will also be provided during the sessions. Some 120 parents and children are expected to participate weekly.
"We are grateful for the District's participation in a strategy that will develop and enhance comprehensive services for children, youth, and families," explained Brian Stutzman, YPN Executive Director. "The District's willingness to partner with each of us will help generate a great deal of community support and pave the way for a more innovative approach to serving families in our community."
Tanager Place will use designated community space during the day (opposite Boys and Girls Club hours) as a site for classes and counseling services. The location is expected to provide more efficient access to services.
"Partnering at the Polk site is a critical first step in the collaborative effort of Tanager Place, Young Parents Network, and Boys &Girls Club to create a unique neighborhood center, tailored to meet the needs of families living in that area," said George Estle, Tanager Place Chief Executive Officer. "The availability of the Polk location will allow each organization to enhance accessibility and increase convenience for existing and future clients living in that neighborhood."
Though not yet finalized, the District's Food and Nutrition Department may also be contracted by the three partnering agencies to provide participating children the opportunity for a nutritious evening meal Monday through Friday. The negotiated rate of the service would cover all food service costs.
"We already will be providing breakfast and lunch to students attending the PAEC during the school day," explained Sheila Lehman, Executive Administrator of Special Services. "So, it seems reasonable to discuss the possibility of the school district providing the meals for the children instead of having the agencies contract with outside vendors and then having to keep everything separate in the kitchen."