Will a partnership between the city of Davenport, and the Davenport Community School District solve difficult problems of today's youth?
A group of about 22 people think so, and they shared their views Tuesday during the City/Schools Partnership Initiative held in the community room at the Davenport Police Department.
Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch led the quarterly session, which keyed in on neighborhood revitalization and opportunity zones, student behaviors in school, and in the community, and joint communication efforts to help promote the school district.
The group used a recent map that shows the "hot spots" in the city, where several social issues intersect. These are, for example, neighborhoods with neglected housing stock, crime, lead-based paint issues, and children who are too often absent from school.
Two of the "hot spots" are near Jefferson Elementary School on the west, and around Madison and Washington elementary schools, in the central city.
Klipsch and school officials, like Rob Scott, an assistant superintendent, were quick to point out that approximately 95 percent of students in Davenport schools are solid students.
The aim is to help 100 percent of the students, and that includes youth who recently have been found to have stolen cars, or with guns. "We have bigger issues with them," the mayor said.
T.J. Schneckloth, director of state and federal programs and student services, and Sarah Ott, a management analyst for the city who works on economic development, reported on neighborhoods. In the central city, the J.B. Young Opportunity Center is now open, with the aim of helping children and families in the Madison/Washington school neighborhoods.
The One Eighty zone, with director Rusty Boruff, is working in the Jefferson school area, Schneckloth said. One Eighty hosts monthly meeting for residents, and events, like a recent cook-off.
In addition Boruff is renovating the former Marquette Academy and has purchased properties he intends to renovate and rent or flip to new buyers.
Finally, he has invested in a machine that eliminates bed bugs, in an attempt to eradicate the pests from residences, Schneckloth said.
Ott said the maps that showed the "hot spots," also showed where resources could be concentrated. "We have a good idea where our allocations should go," she said.
Marion Meginnis, 3rd Ward alderwoman, said some of the problems trace back to errant landlords.
As far as student behavior is concerned, a committee reported on "intercept strategy" which identifies students who are on police radar, but have not been arrested.
So far this year, 19 students have been identified and then provided services, through interventionists, school therapists and others in the district, Farrah Roberts said. Roberts is mental health grants manager for the school district.
The 19 include students who are the next generation of law breakers, Davenport Police Chief Paul Sikorski said. "We are trying to keep them out of the justice system," he said.
Klipsch brought up an initiative between the city, police and a group of clergy. While the program is not yet in place, its aim is to offer more support to students who are in the judicial system.
In marketing the district, a committee is looking into the use of social media to connect with young parents about such topics as kindergarten readiness, or kindergarten roundup events, said Rachael Steiner, assistant to the superintendent for community relations and partnerships.
In addition, testimonials are to be made over the holidays by young adults who went through Davenport schools. A young adult blogger, for example, will recount her experience at Sudlow Intermediate School "which changed her life," Steiner said.