Communities in Schools leaders meet with legislators

February 12, 2014 

Members of the affiliated chapters of Communities In Schools throughout the state gathered last month in Olympia to visit with our legislators.

Richard Vanberg, a past president of Communities In Schools of Peninsula, said our local affiliate has a story to tell, and members bring it to legislators’ attention each year.

I joined Executive Director Colleen Speer and Program Director Laurel Schulz, along with board members John Ciccarelli and Vanberg, to bring our story to the attention of state Reps. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, and Jesse Young, R-Gig Harbor, and state Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard.

And we brought our Rotary exchange student, Francesca Cubbedu from Sassari, Italy.

Cubbedu, who is from the island of Sardinia, and is attending Peninsula High School. She had a unique opportunity to meet and chat with each of our three legislators — something to write home about.

She said she enjoyed lunch with the Communities in Schools group in the legislative cafeteria, where she watched lobbyists and legislators in action.

Like many from her generation, she couldn’t resist the temptation to text message throughout her day. Nonetheless, she said she was learning new things and enjoying doing so.

The weather couldn’t make up its mind during the visit. Our peninsula detachment and others scurried through rain at one juncture and basked in a chilled sun break during another as we made the transition along the pathways between the various office buildings to make legislative appointments.

At one point, Cubbedu joined two other Rotary exchange scholars, one from New Zealand and the other from Finland, and they enjoyed talking about their individual experiences. The other two girls were living in other parts of the state and attending other schools.

The message we shared with our legislators is that we have an efficient and highly effective program. We bring services from our community to students who need extra help. Our goal is to keep kids in schools, to graduate from high school on time, and for all of them to succeed.

All three of our legislators were interested and knowledgeable. We are seeking a small financial package to benefit all eleven Communities in Schools affiliates in our state that would strengthen our in-school site coordinators’ programs.

“It’s a difficult time to get financial support for an additional program,” Vanberg said, “but we know that we’re successful in what we offer.”

Other Communities in Schools affiliates met with their respective legislators to request funding on behalf of the organization statewide. Last year, 54,067 students received benefits from school-wide programs, and 4,088 were served with one-on-one support through the work of individual site coordinators. Locally, our Peninsula affiliate served more than 5,000 students last year with large, all-school services, and 268 students received individual ongoing support on both the Gig Harbor and Key peninsulas.

For more information or to learn how to volunteer for our mentor program, call Shultz at 253-884-5733 or email laurel@cisofpeninsula.org. Watch the video online to find out how CISP is making a difference in our children’s lives.

Hugh McMillan is a longtime freelance writer for The Peninsula Gateway. He can be reached at 253-884-3319 or by email at hmcmnp1000@ centurytel.net.

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