Tacoma 360: Interlocal coalition aims to link students, community services

A coalition of educators, city officials, and civic leaders is pushing for a plan that would create an executive board and hire an executive director to advocate and create conditions for increased collaboration of school and community services around the needs of Tacoma children and families, according to a presentation last month at City Hall.

The group, which calls the effort “Tacoma 360,” wants to link the services of non-profit organizations to local youth in order to help young peopel succeed in school. It has proposed an interlocal agreement between the City of Tacoma, Metro Parks Tacoma, United Way, and Tacoma Public Schools be executed by the end of this month. An executive board would also be appointed in July. Beyond that, a budget could be finalized and an executive director hired by September.

Tacoma City Council was briefed on the plan during its study session June 16.

According to information provided at the meeting, the executive board would:

— Make policy recommendations and to serve as liaison between the agreement parties;

— Appoint, terminate, and provide oversight of the Tacoma 360 Director;

— Affirm/ terminate partnership agreements;

— Establish a budget and expend monies and submit biennial funding request to funders;

— Establish supplemental by-laws;

— Adopt a strategic plan for the organization;

— Ensure recognition of funding partners

— Create conditions for successful ongoing operations

The executive director’s responsibilities would include:

— Complete Community Asset Mapping;

— Support the Tacoma 360 Board in Strategic Planning;

— Conduct research, assess preliminary needs and establish measures;

— Establish partner agreements and facilitate the work of the advisory board;

— Develop communication links and planning structures to align services to students/school needs;

— Facilitate the work among organizations and align the work of 360 to support the youth and family and public safety goals of governmental partners; contribute to effective workforce development and recruitment; and Increase community engagement and promote civic responsibility;

— Represent Tacoma 360 to governmental agencies and the community;

— Work with representatives of the media;

— Provide program management and secure funding with contract and spending authority of up to $5,000.

“If you look at what we’re talking about, one person isn’t going to solve every problem,” said Councilmember Marilyn Strickland. “But this is about aligning services, setting priorities, and understanding we have the opportunity to address pressing needs.”

But Councilmember Mike Lonergan argued Tacoma 360 would be tackling issues already assigned to Tacoma Schools. “I have to say I had hoped to be more excited about the outcome than I am,” he said. “Looking at the goals, it seems to me that is the role the school board and school superintendent’s office serve. Every word of that seems to be their charge from the general public. I am not convinced that this will help.”

“The nexus of this is built on several models that had been working nationally to pull community resources into one place to focus on the needs of children and family,” said Tacoma Schools Superintendent Art Jarvis. “Many agencies are working very hard, and I wouldn’t disparage any of those agencies. But we don’t have coordination of those agencies and units. I certainly support the effort. We’re at the beginning stage of how do we make it work in Tacoma.”