The Inter-Faith Council for Social Service and Piedmont Health Services pitched the idea to Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools last month of including their respective services in the redevelopment of the Lincoln Center.
In September, the school board submitted an application to redevelop the Lincoln Center, the school district’s administrative building. The plan includes the building of a two-story facility to replac e their current offices and hold the district’s combined pre-K classes, the expansion of the Phoenix Academy High School and the addition of playgrounds and play fields.
This project will be funded by the Orange County Board of Commissioners in advance of the pending bond referendum. If the bond is passed, construction of the new Lincoln Center could begin as early as spring 2017.
Micheal Reinke, director of the IFC, said if the school board decides to include the IFC and Piedmont in this project, they would offer their services in a separate building of the Lincoln Center. The first floor of the building could house the food pantry and kitchen, and the health clinic could be located on the second floor.
Having the IFC and Piedmont next to the redevelopment of the Lincoln Center could be a one-stop location for the community. The majority of students in the pre-K programs qualify for free or reduced lunch, Reinke said. These students and their families could use the services IFC and Piedmont are proposing.
“They might drop off a child on Wednesday morning and then go to a doctor’s appointment,” Reinke said.
The Phoenix Academy is an alternative high school serving 35 to 45 students. Reinke said the high school students could have the opportunity to intern with the IFC if they’re interested in social work, at the pre-K school if they’re interested in early childhood education or with Piedmont to work hands on with the health care system.
Jeff Nash, spokesperson for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, said the school board and the Lincoln Alumni Association are still considering the idea of a co-location for these three entities.
“There has not been a decision made at this point,” Nash said.
The school board reviewed the idea Thursday with the designer of the new campus and representatives from IFC and Piedmont. During the meeting, the board was informed that including these two organizations in the project should not slow down the design process of the Lincoln Center. Reinke clarified that the building would consolidate IFC’s food pantry in Carrboro and the community kitchen in Chapel Hill to one location.
“If this were to take off, it would require a huge amount of community support,” Reinke said.
UNC senior Alli Clayton supported the idea of the co-location because it provides extra learning opportunities for students in the Phoenix Academy.
“Regarding health care, it’s necessary to learn how it functions because it affects each and every one of us,” Clayton said. “You have to know if public policy is being done well.”
Clayton added that exposing children to homelessness could be an educational tool as well.
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