- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 7, 2015

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Omaha Public Schools board members have voted to link the Howard Kennedy Elementary school with a north Omaha neighborhood revitalization effort.

The Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/1c3uKuh ) reports the school board voted unanimously Monday to approve a plan that will bring to the school a new principal, new curriculum and longer day and year. The school would partner with the 75 North project, which is redeveloping the Highlander neighborhood, former home Pleasantview Homes public housing project.

According to Seventy-Five North Revitalization Corp. Executive Director Othello Meadows, the school was chosen because of its proximity to the 75 North site, and its need for improvement. In 2014, less than half of the school’s students scored proficient on math, reading and science tests. Almost 98 percent of the school’s students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

The school would receive a social worker, an assistant principal, a math and reading specialist. Part-time art, band and strings would become full-time staff members.

Omaha Public Schools would provide the some of the additional funds that would be needed for the new resources, while 75 North would contribute up to $1.7 million in 2016. Federal grants would cover the rest. Over time, the district will provide more of the funding until 2026 when the district is expected to cover all the costs for improving the elementary school.

The 75 North project is part of a national network called Purpose Built Communities which focuses on redeveloping a lone struggling neighborhood and redevelops it based on building quality, mixed-income housing; emphasizing early childhood education and a strong neighborhood school; and providing community services to residents.

The network is backed by Warren Buffett and several other wealthy philanthropists and developers.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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