The move by Marquette Area Public Schools to reinstate its community schools program is a positive development for the district - as well as the community.
Approved by the MAPS board this week, the redesigned program is returning with an attractive improvement as well, with Superintendent Deb Veiht saying the district has developed a way to pay for most of the program.
Most of the new revenue will come in the form of state funding, as students 16- to 20-years old who enroll in the Marquette Alternative High School to earn a high school diploma will be eligible for the state's per pupil allowance in the same way as traditional students.
Those 16- to 20-year-olds will also be given the chance to earn their diploma at no cost, while those who participate in the district's GED program are required to pay for it.
In addition, community schools will be broken into three sections - adult and community education, community enrichment and athletics.
There is a wide variety of classes and programs offered by community schools, including cooking, computers, sewing, percussion attack drum camp, exercise, flower arranging, dental assisting, snowmobile safety, hunting safety, language, oil painting, folk dancing, and fly-tying classes.
In addition, there is a multitude of sports offerings for kids, including beginner golf, volleyball, swimming, tennis, gymnastics, basketball, bowling and cheer camps.
With such a wide array of classes and camps, the community schools program touches a lot of area residents - both young and old.
There was some concern voiced by two board members that they weren't sure it was a good idea to bring back a part-time community schools director at a time when tight budgets have the district looking at teacher and curriculum reductions.
However, with the move to have the program nearly fund itself and the many area residents it serves, we believe the return of the program is a good development for the community.