Over the past several years, the communities within District 211 have seen dramatic shifts in socioeconomics and ethnic/racial diversity. These changes manifest themselves in terms of the student population the District serves. Between 2005-2014, the percentage of Hispanic students within District 211 has increased from 11.1% to 20.7%. During that same time period, the student population qualifying for low-income status has risen from 12.5% to 29.8%. As these demographic shifts occurred, families living within District 211 have been impacted by reductions in State-level supports for physical and mental health services. This collective set of factors has created an unprecedented need for comprehensive community-based supports that help families overcome barriers to leading healthy and productive lives.
Within the northern portion of the District, these needs were responded to by an organization called the Palatine Opportunity Center (POC). Founded in the late 1990s, and through a partnership with Northwest Community Hospital, the POC hosts a variety of service providers who help community members overcome challenges with language, basic health and wellness, and educational and social services.
The barriers facing families in the northern section of the District are also present within the southern portion. Dating back to March 2013, a number of community non-profit organizations, local elected officials, hospitals, and school district representatives began meeting to conceptualize a way to deliver services that could better support a growing population of low-income families and high-need students in Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg.
A needs survey was developed and administered. In total, seven categories were listed on the survey: health care, education, early childhood, learning labs, social services, youth programs, and adult education. Survey results highlighted three categories as being most important in terms of perceived needs: health care (community clinic, nurse, mental health, and wellness prevention), learning labs (computer literacy, job skills seminars, and employment opportunities), and social services (bilingual counseling and social worker services).
During the 2014-2015 school year, plans were solidified for services in the southern portion of the District that paralleled those services in the northern portion. Called the Community School, and located in the new District 211 Higgins Education Center (1030 W. Higgins Road in Hoffman Estates), this program would help families who are directly connected to School Districts 54 and 211 secure needed supports.
Contributing agencies include: Alexian Brothers Healthcare System, Children’s Advocacy Center, Community Consolidated School District 54, Harper College, Kenneth Young Center, Northwest Compass, Northwest Suburban United Way, Palatine Opportunity Center, Schaumburg Township, Township High School District 211, Village of Hoffman Estates, Village of Schaumburg, and WINGS.
The Board authorized the superintendent to enter into intergovernmental agreements with these human services agencies and organizations, health care, education, and social services providers that wish to partner with High School District 211 in the Community School within the Higgins Education Center.
Additional information on the Community School is available here.