Hamilton County Schools leaders look to community schools to serve highest-needs students

Community School Coordinators Mellisa Graham, left, and John Cunningham pose at Orchard Knob Middle School on Thursday, March 29, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

PERCENTAGE OF STUDENTS LIVING IN POVERTY

› East Lake Academy: 79.8 percent› Dalewood Middle School: 77.8 percent› Orchard Knob Middle School: 84.4 percent› Orchard Knob Elementary School: 85.7 percentSource: 2017 Tennessee Department of Education State Report Card

As student achievement historically has faltered in some of Hamilton County's highest-needs schools, the school district has explored options to bolster performance and support students and their communities.

Last fall, new Superintendent Bryan Johnson launched the Opportunity Zone, allocating more staff and resources to Brainerd High School, The Howard School and their feeder schools, and in February the state unveiled its plan for five of the 12 schools.

Now, the district is taking a step to address the needs that come into play before students ever step into the classroom - basic needs such as hot meals and access to health care - which research shows the lack of has a toxic effect on student success.

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