Weis celebrating community school transformation

CA Weis Elementary has been approved for funding to become a community school

C.A. Weis Community School will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 8:30 a.m. Thursday to celebrate its transformation from an elementary school.

The community school model prioritizes health, growth and learning, community engagement and safety. The model is based on Evans Community School in Orlando. The community high school improved from an F-rated school to a B school, and the graduation rate increased from 60 percent to 80 percent.

The University of Central Florida receives state funding for the program and partners with community entities to offer services at the chosen schools.

Children’s Home Society, Escambia Community Clinics, Escambia County School District Title I, Sacred Heart Hospital and the University of West Florida are among the community partners for the community school.

Weis is located on the west side of Pensacola and received a state assessment grade of D in 2014, C in 2013 and B in 2012. Principal Holly Magee said there are about 600 pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students. Every student is on free or reduced lunch.

Magee said the health clinic will ideally be completed next month. There will be a physician and therapist available at the school.

Extended learning programs will be the next focus. Students in after-school care will participate in teacher-instructed activities related to their classroom studies. Programs and computer access will be available for adults.

University of Central Florida awarded Weis a $75,000 Community School Planning grant. The grant required the Escambia County School District to provide $25,000.

Tim Putman said state and Impact 100 grants and donations from companies such as Gulf Power contributed to the Weis transformation. In its first year as a community school, Weis is eligible for a share of $900,000 in state funds from UCF.

Weis used grants to purchase a four-slide, state-of-the-art community playground. Magee said the school playground previously consisted of tires. The playground is in place and only waiting for the surfacing to be completed.