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School officials escalate plans for resource center.

Byline: Anne Williams The Register-Guard

SPRINGFIELD - Amid a rising tide of poverty and the problems that often accompany it, Springfield school officials are stepping up efforts to secure funds for a new resource center offering a wide range of services for families in need.

At an open house today at the district's Brattain House, school board Chairwoman Nancy Bigley and Mayor Sid Leiken will outline reasons why it makes sense - in terms of both cost-efficiency and humanity - to pull together disparate services and programs under a single roof.

"The part I really like is the fact that it's going to be classified as 'one-stop shopping,' " Leiken said - meaning that families who need services such as clothing or school supplies, free or low-cost student health care, homeless shelter referrals, parenting classes or assistance as Spanish speakers can find them easily, without having to travel to locations scattered through the city and beyond. "Any time you can make it as simple as possible to try to find out where certain services are, to me that makes a lot of sense."

At this point, the proposal exists only on paper, and key details - including where the so-called Student and Family Support Center would be located, and which district programs and community agencies would share it - have yet to be worked out. That work will fall to a yet-to-be formed feasibility committee, said Gloria Griffith, who coordinates many of the district's family services out of offices at the Brattain House.

The district has submitted a request to Oregon's congressional delegation for $700,000 in federal funds, enough to at least cover a feasibility study and a coordinator position, and possibly some capital work. It's the district's third try, spokesman Jeff DeFranco said.

"It's not new but I would say it seems to have a little more momentum this year," he said, noting that the proposal is one of 56 from a pool of 170 that U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio of Springfield has submitted for an appropriation request.

As part of Lane County's United Front lobby ing effort since 1998, the district has obtained more than $1 million in federal funds for a variety of projects, including $179,000 for the Academy of Arts and Academics and $178,600 for school security initiatives in 2008.

Griffith said such a family service hub has been a dream of hers, and something school officials have discussed, for more than a decade. But the community's escalating needs over the past couple of years have helped place it on the front burner.

"Families are coming here who have never been part of 'the system' before, so they're dealing with a lot of frustration about how to do that," she said. "There's a lot of shame, which there should not be, but they've never had to ask for help before. We should be able to help move these families through and help them get the support they need."

OPEN HOUSE

The Springfield School District seeks to build support for a centralized family service center

When: Today from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Where: The Brattain House, 1030 G St.

Highlights: Presentation at noon by school board Chairwoman Nancy Bigley and Mayor Sid Leiken; self-guided tours of the Brattain House

Information: Visit www.sps.lane.edu/supportcenter
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Title Annotation:Education; The proposal calls for a central location in Springfield to provide a variety of services to families in need
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 27, 2010
Words:550
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