One of the League’s eight critical assets to building vibrant communities is education. In Michigan, the link between communities and school districts can be clouded as they are considered separate entities, where school districts are run by their own boards. And the boundaries mostly never match. There are some cities in Michigan that encompass up to half a dozen school districts!
This said, we’ve always maintained that it is important for local officials to realize the importance of the link between building a better community by building better relationships with the local K-12 school system and if available, a community college or four year school that might be within the city boundaries. Certainly, all of these entities need a vibrant, healthy place for their teachers and professors to choose to live and parents to settle in to send their kids to school. And at the end of the day, both local and school officials need to be working together to make that happen.
One of the bigger issues that certainly brings this to the forefront is that of after-school programs. Time and again studies have shown that the after-school time period of 3-6 pm is the most worrisome and is that time of the day when school age children can find themselves in trouble on their own or in harm’s way. There seems to be real opportunity in this area for local community and school district to partner.
And, its happening. In Michigan, cities like Grand Rapids and Farmington Hills are well known for their work in this area. The Michigan After School Partnership collaboration also is very active in promoting such partnerships. The League has worked with both MASP and the National League of Cities on this matter as well.