Cherry Creek School District has School-Based, Community Health Care Centers, and We Have Questions
This year, Cherry Creek School District (CCSD) has opened two school-based, community health care centers. One is located on the Overland High School campus, and the other is on the Horizon Middle School property. Both these schools and health care centers are in lower income neighborhoods. The rationale behind creating these clinics is to serve CCSD students who need health care during school, so their parents don’t need to take time off of work to take them to their doctor. They were created to provide quality and equitable healthcare and offer the opportunity for patients to self-advocate for their own health and wellness in a way that is racially and culturally responsive and equitable, according the CCSD website. Michelle Weinraub, Director of Health Services for CCSD is also quoted, “According to the CDC, racism is a serious threat to public health … These centers will remove barriers, provide direct access to quality care, and help address these disparities.” The clinics were also created to serve the community members who live near Overland and Horizon who may not have access to free health care, not just students and their families. However, a quick google search reveals there are free health clinics within walking distance of each school.
The services provided at these clinics are for all ages, and they include: behavioral management services, chronic disease management, dental screenings, developmental screenings, immunizations, minor injuries, newborn care and well child checks, physicals, sick visits, sports physicals, and sexual and reproductive health and education.
These clinics are run by providers hired by STRIDE, a health care company that helped CCSD during the pandemic with testing and vaccine distribution and has been a partner with CCSD since 2018. STRIDE provides medical staff, supplies, health education and counseling for students and families, and CCSD provides architectural and design implementation, health education, marketing support, tech and health services support and meaningful community connections.
We, at the Cherry Creek Parent Advocacy Network (CCPAN), have gathered questions from parents about these health care centers. We are worried about how the new legislation around mental and reproductive health will affect our children if they are treated at these centers. Since children ages 12 and above do not require parental consent to receive mental health care, who is accountable if the treatment goes awry? Since minor girls can receive an abortion without parental consent, what type of “reproductive education” will they receive at the clinics, and what if that education does not represent the values of that minor’s family? How are parents supposed to adequately care for their children if they aren’t aware to look for side effects or possible adverse reactions from treatments given without their consent and knowledge? And again, who is responsible for continued care and follow up if the parents have not consented to treatment, and there are resulting complications? Could parents be accused of neglect?
We are also concerned about safety of our students. If the greater community is invited to these school-based clinics for free health care, who is responsible for the safety of our children attending the high schools and middle schools on that shared property?
Parents have many questions regarding the financing of the clinics. Since the clinics are free to those who cannot afford medical care, who is covering their expenses? Will the financial reports be available to the public and be under the same Sunshine Law rules as CCSD finances? At the June CCSD Board of Education (BOE) meeting, the Chief Financial Officer and Operations Officer, Scott Smith presented his report on the CCSD 2022 budget. During his presentation, Mr. Smith remarked several times that CCSD requires more funding from the state in order to properly finance school programs and operations. Moments later during the budget presentations, Mr. Smith also announced that CCSD would be using their “own money” (as opposed to adding a bond issue to the ballot) to fund the building of a third STRIDE community, school-based health care center at Smoky Hill High School.
Somehow, in a district where less than 50% of its students are performing at academic proficiency levels, CCSD has enough money to build a third health care clinic, but not enough money for basic programs and operations. We are confused by the focus on health care vs academics. We rely on our schools to teach our children the necessary academic content for success, so why is CCSD offering free well baby visits and dental care to the community rather than offering our students the necessary tutoring and academic support to help our students thrive in this post-pandemic environment?
The CCPAN leadership has requested a meeting with Michelle Weinraub, CCSD Chief Health Officer, to address these questions. We have been denied a meeting, but Ms. Weinraub has agreed to answer our questions in writing. We have submitted the above questions and more via email, and we are waiting on a response. When we receive a response, we will post it on our website; www.cherrycreekparents.org. Readers are welcome to subscribe to receive regular information about CCSD and learn how to be involved. We need families to become more actively involved in advocating for their students if we want to see needed changes in our district. Please join us!