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Randy Speck

Superintendent , Madison District Public Schools

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Debate: Should public schools take on the responsibility for offering basic needs like food and health care to students and families?

Schools may no longer be just a place for parents to drop their kids off for six and a half hours each day. Due to various socio-economics, schools increasingly find themselves in a new place of influence. The impact of that influence could have a major impact on communities. Schools have access to be able to provide three meals a day through various breakfast, lunch and dinner programs. Schools have access to healthcare through School Based Health Centers to be able to provide services to students, their families and the community. However, the debate is...should schools have this responsibility?

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    Oct 26 2012: I just read the comments. Everyone agree in the ties to education and school meals. Ony Lejan, from Germany, addresses the social aspects as he has them in his country and that the government should prvide these services and since the school is a government agency why not. He also address the role of parenting and the lack of the "mother" in the modern home. In your scenerio it is more closely tied to social-economic issues (85% qualifies for free meals, etc ..)

    I do not expect a answer to this political input .. If Obamacare is enacted then clinics will be everywhere and the hospitals will play a lessor role as will doctors. Would this resolve the question of where you see we are going and the schools role in that direction. Perhaps that alone would be your answer. I think the food meal supplements are here to stay and possiably expand.

    Currently when a student is sick you isolate them from the rest of the school population. Under the other example you would invite the sick into the school and introduce them to the students and staff. If you get paid on seat time this would be a tragic mistake. In order to meet the state attendance requirements for completion of a "school year" your school calendar would have to have built in flexability as would you contracts with all of your staff on the possibility of a school shut down for medical infections brought in by the public.

    Some of that was way outside of the box but brainstorming is a good thing ... plan for the worst and hope for the best.

    Good to hear from you again. Wish you well. Bob.
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      Oct 29 2012: Bob,

      Thank you for this input. I see a world that is hurting, beginning with it's children. I see churches and religious institutions looking too often inwardly and not enough outwardly. I see kids and families struggling every day, pulling themselves up "by the bootstraps" and doing everything they can to provide something better for their children. I have a different path to public school administration...I served for years as a private/Christian school Superintendent and was thankful to do so. That experience opened my eyes to seeing a world that is need of compassionate people, especially from those in leadership...those who can do something about it.

      I dare say I am more conservative in my thinking than a lot of my public school colleagues...I didn't "grow up" in the same system they did. My belief in the role of government is one that is a limited form. However, as I now serve a population of students and families that have basic needs, I am scouring around to find every possible form of support we can use as a school to grow the influence we have a school into the home. Trust me, I don't want anymore paperwork or one additional regulation, but I cannot sit back any longer. I'm tired of the educational conversations about standardized test scores...at this point, the families I serve could care less. They are wanting something better for their kids and if I can get the buy-in from faculty and staff (that is thankfully happening) that we have a greater purpose than to only teach math and science, then we may have the ability to grow our influence even more.

      I am very appreciative of the comments and debate that is going on here.

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