City Pushes Forward with Plans for Community School

Posted at 6:00 PM, Sep 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-30 05:18:44-04

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) -- Tallahassee is moving forward with plans to bring a community school to the southside. Tallahassee City Commissioner Gil Ziffer says he hopes for it open by the next school year.

The school will provide healthcare and food in addition to educating the community. Ziffer was part of a group that went to Orlando to check out the only existing community school in Florida.

"You start to have a community that gets healthier," Ziffer said. "You start to have a community that's more cohesive, and you have a community that helps the kids become better students and better adults."

The plan is convert the former Leonard Wesson Elementary School on South Meridian Street into a school serving prekindergarten to second grade, but organizers say you don't have to be a student to take advantage of the resources.

"We understand that this is not a miracle drug," said Reverend Stanley Sims, a community partner with the initiative. "This is not something that's going to solve all the problems of the southside, but this is a very good start."

Wesson Elementary currently operates as a daycare. The goal is to merge this service with the new ones the community school will provide.

"Every city's different," Ziffer said. "Every part of the city is different, and so the most important thing is to have something there that the folks there will engage themselves in and use."

Officials have applied for a $75,000 grant to help hire consultants to develop the school. They'll find out if they've been awarded the grant on October 9.

Another group of local officials and community residents will travel to Orlando in October to see the state's first community school in person.