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Coffeyville Public Schools

Providing quality early education through collaboration.

Several years ago, Coffeyville Public Schools recognized a noticeable gap in quality early education within the district. They understood the need to engage community leaders to improve education and childcare access.

Entry Point to School Readiness

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More than 30 percent of students who attend a high-quality early learning program are more likely to graduate high school.

85% of a child’s brain structure is formed by age five

The Challenge

The most urgent challenge revolves around early childhood education. The goal in Coffeyville has been to break the cycle of poverty. Coffeyville has a long history of generational poverty. In order to work toward the goal of goal of improving early childhood education in the county, Coffeyville Public Schools leadership knew it had to impart a lasting impact. When Superintendent Dr. Craig Correll arrived in 2008, test scores were far below state and national averages. The school district tracked past student progress through the years, and recognized students within their cohorts came into kindergarten with low engagement and remained lower than their peers throughout their school careers.

The Solution

The primary solution in Coffeyville was to build a high-quality early childhood center, staffed with high-quality early childhood professionals. Coffeyville currently serves 75 percent of four-year-old children and 50 percent of three-year-old children in the community. By establishing a 501(c)(3) nonprofit (Coffeyville Coalition for Early Education) public-private partnership, the district managed to leverage resources that would not have otherwise been available working in isolation.

Is This a Repeatable Model?

This model is not only repeatable but scalable. Superintendent Correll was appointed to the Governor’s Council to specifically address this issue. It’s critical that this model have the flexibility to scale both up and down for various communities across Kansas. One recommendation proposed to Gov. Laura Kelly, was to create a state-wide public-private partnership dedicated to early childhood education. In October 2019, Superintendent Correll moderated a panel discussion at the Governor’s Symposium on Early Childhood Education, on the formation of public-private partnership opportunities at the state level.

Lessons Learned

The Coffeyville Public School District learned, through engaging local stakeholders, the importance of setting clear expectations, both short- and long-term — for the community at-large. One meaningful lesson the district learned was establishing one true champion from the private sector early in the process. This enabled easier conversations with private sector leaders and professionals.

Critical Partnerships

Coffeyville Superintendent of Schools
Business CEOs
Local Head Start Director
Local Community College President
Coffeyville Community College Foundation
John Deere Foundation
Coffeyville Public School Foundation
City of Coffeyville
Small businesses
Parents As Teachers
Community Health Clinic of Southeast Kansas
University of Kansas Autism Telehealth Screening
Boys and Girls Club
Coffeyville Community College
Kansas Children’s Cabinet & Trust Fund

What Are the Program Results?

The results of the program have all been positive. More students in pre-kindergarten, more students coming to kindergarten prepared to learn, and more childcare opportunities for families and businesses. The local community college now collaborates with the program and offers tuition scholarships for any parent whose child attends the Early Learning Center. This effectively addresses poverty at two different generational levels — that of the young child and of the young adult.

Addressing Childcare and the Impact of COVID-19

Dr. Correll led initial efforts to unite county school districts and parochial schools in planning and responding to the global pandemic. Emergency Management and the Montgomery County Health Department was contacted to convene a meeting with the entire educational system in the county to develop a strategy prior to schools closing in April 2020. All four public schools and the six parochial schools have drafted a universal hazard mitigation plan to safely reopen schools. The consistency and unity created by the plan has drawn support throughout the county. The hazard mitigation plan creates shared responsibility and decision making equally across every school in coordination with the Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Health Department. There is no conflict in operation, information, or consistency, and that directly benefits the safety and public health of not only students and staff, but the entire county.

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