Arguments against a local School-based Health Center (SBHC) in the Mamaroneck Public Schools has heated up with efforts by a group called Citizens Against an SBHC in Mamaroneck.
The Mamaroneck Avenue Elementary School based clinic was proposed by Open Door and the Hispanic Resource Center of Larchmont and Mamaroneck.
Zoe Colon, executive director of the Hispanic Resource Center acknowledges some of the reaction has been hostile and has exacerbated race and class divisions. “There’s been a lot of misinformation,” Colon said. “A lot of it is rooted in fear, she told LoHud.”
A Facebook page explains some of those objections to an SBHC in more detail.
- An SBHC will take up valuable space at an already crowded elementary school. The MAS student population is the fastest growing in the district. Enrollment has increased by over 10% over the last two years, and is expected to continue to grow at a greater rate than the rest of the district. As a result, space at the school is tight. (For comparison, available square feet per student at MAS is 139. It is 149 per student at Murray, 150 per student at Chatsworth, and 163 at Central.) Opponents to an SBHC feel that space within MAS is best used for current or future educational purposes.
- Locating a health center within a school encourages sick children who would otherwise stay home to come to school in order to get medical treatment. Opponents believe that this will increase the spread of common childhood illnesses.
- Open Door has announced to the school district and to the public that they are planning on opening a community health center in Mamaroneck, within walking distance of MAS. The same services available at an SBHC will be available at a community health center. Opponents feel that a community based health center that can treat the whole family offers all of the benefits of a school based health center, without the significant negatives.
The school district’s primary justification for opening an SBHC is that it might help close the “achievement gap” between lower socio-economic students and their more affluent peers. Curiously, at the same time the school district is considering ways to eliminate co-op camp and other extended year academic programs. Co-op camp is a summer program for students from all elementary schools who have been identified by their principal as needing additional academic help to reach grade-level standards. The program provides a 1/2 day of remedial academics, and a 1/2 of more typical day camp activities. While open to all students, most participants are lower SES and/or come from households that do not speak English and are unable to provide the necessary academic supports themselves. Opponents of a SBHC feel that the best way to close the “achievement gap” is to focus on academic supports that have been shown to be effective – like extended year academic programs. The time and energy devoted to studying an SBHC has been a distraction from academic matters.
What do you think?