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Ogden goes door to door to improve schools

By Nadine Wimmer | Posted - Aug 22nd, 2013 @ 9:37pm

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OGDEN&#8212 As Utah students head back to school, one district may know more about its incoming students than any other.

The community of Ogden has spent the summer going door to door, learning about families and specific neighborhood needs. Volunteers from Weber State University interviewed more than 700 Ogden families to find out what they need for their children to succeed in school.

"Really what we're looking at is a number of education indicators and community indicators," said Promise Neighborhoods Project Director Tim Jackson. "It relates to education and children being prepared when they enter kindergarten."

For example, in a neighborhood near James Madison Elementary they found that 105 children entered kindergarten and 70 percent were well below benchmark standards, 55 percent had no access to any pre-school and 30 percent have parents who, when asked how often they read together, answered "not at all."

The surveys are part of a program called Ogden United Promise Neighborhoods. A federal grant allows them to identify specific needs in troubled neighborhoods and then unite business, schools and government around creating tailored solutions.

One family said they hope one end result is after-school programs for their son.

"Having those opportunities for him to be in a structured class or structured scenario after school, that's really the biggest thing I'm hoping to get out of this," said father Adam Tamme.

Surveyors said they don't just consider education, but ask about other things that could derail education like health care, nutrition and safety.

"There is definitely some gang issues there and some drug problems, and hopefully they'll be able to identify what is causing a lot of those situations," Tamme said.

They're still analyzing data so they don't have all the solutions yet, but community leaders said they have a resolve to address them together.

"What we do know, is people in the Ogden area are much more involved in their schools than they ever were before," said Ogden United Chairman Reed Richards.

Another advantage to Ogden United, leaders said, is that once they do identify the solutions, they have all the players at the table to make them happen quickly.

"It's a smart way of working to continue to try and make Ogden a great place to live, to study, to work and to play," Jackson said.


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