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Thanks to an increase in state funding, Communities In Schools – Greater Central Texas (CIS) will expand its services to more schools in the Killeen Independent School District. The local, private, non-profit organization dedicated to impacting the lives of children in a positive way by helping them achieve academic and personal success, will now serve eight more elementary schools and an additional middle school during the 2019-2020 academic year.

With increased funding from the state legislature, CIS is also required to serve 1,000 more students than the 5,112 students served this past academic year. The state requirement last year was 4,808 students. To meet the new state requirement, CIS will add positions at the following schools chosen by KISD: Brookhaven, Hay Branch, Ira Cross, Pershing Park, Peebles, Trimmier, Harker Heights, Haynes and Sugar Loaf elementary schools and Live Oak Ridge Middle School.

The services provided include academic support, counseling/supportive guidance, health and human services, parent and family engagement, personal enrichment and college and career readiness preparation.

"Our purpose is to improve student achievement, help decrease the dropout rate and increase the graduation rate," said Michael Dewees, CIS executive director. "Many CIS students have never considered college as an option. We are working to change that mindset by offering the proper guidance and counseling to promote college and career readiness. Also, for kids to want to stay in school and achieve academically, they must have the proper basic needs. To that end, we render health and human services and actively engage with parents and families to offer positive, social, cultural, recreational and interpersonal enrichment for the students."

CIS is measured through performance results established by the state CIS office in the areas of academic achievement, behavior, graduation, retention and promotion to next grade. While the outcomes for the 2018-2019 school year have not yet been finalized, outcomes for the 2017-18 school year featured a 93% improvement among CIS students in academics compared to the state requirement of 85%. The local CIS agency also exceeded its performance target in behavior performance by achieving 96% compared to the state requirement of 85%.

Other performance outcomes were 96% of CIS students were promoted to the next grade (requirement – 85%), 93% of CIS seniors graduated (requirement – 90%) and 99% stayed in school (requirement – 90%).

The need for CIS services has continued to grow in the past few years.

"Recently, more than 2,000, or 38.6%, of students in the CIS program have endured some type of family conflict or crisis and the number of students suffering from homelessness has risen from 7% to 9.6%," said Dewees. "It is our job to not let these disadvantages hinder a student’s capabilities of achieving success in the classroom."

CIS relies heavily on grants, financial support from the local school districts, donations and other funding sources to supplement state funding.

"Although we do not have the vast resources of our CIS colleagues in larger metropolitan areas which are able to secure bigger budgets, we are deeply appreciative of the generosity of the community and our business partners," said Dewees. "Their contributions of clothing, shoes, hygiene items, food and many other necessities help meet the needs of CIS students. We are also grateful for the hard work our legislators do to secure funding for the program and for recognizing the work we do for children."

The mission of CIS-Greater Central Texas is to surround students with a community of support, empowering students to stay in school and achieve in life. For more information about CIS or to provide assistance, visit the website www.cis-tx.org.

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