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New clinic space at Julian Thomas to be set aside for community into the future
Julian Thomas school

New clinic space at Julian Thomas to be set aside for community into the future

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Julian Thomas Elementary

Julian Thomas Elementary is located at 930 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The basement at Julian Thomas is slated to be a health clinic that is expected to open in 2020.

RACINE — Racine Unified plans to build out the garden level of the Garfield section of Julian Thomas Elementary School to house a community health care clinic, but it does not envision the clinic will stay there forever.

The district, along with the City of Racine and the county, announced in May their plan to work together to bring a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center to Julian Thomas, 930 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

FQHCs provide a range of health care services on a sliding fee scale for low-income families on Medicare, Medicaid or who cannot afford their insurance deductibles.

“It’s our belief that the FQHC will be our first tenant,” said Shannon Gordon, Unified’s chief operating officer. “It’s not likely that we’re the long term solution and location for that clinic.”

The construction work at Julian Thomas and the location of the clinic there are part of the school’s transformation into a community school, which is set to be fully realized this fall.

Julian Thomas will be Unified’s second community school, following in the footsteps of Knapp Elementary which became one in the 2016-17 school year.

Unified’s community schools are operated in conjunction with the United Way of Racine and offer school-based mental health services, extended learning programs and programs for families and adults in the school’s immediate neighborhood.

Moving forward

The city applied to open a FQHC in April, and Gordon said it should learn whether or not it’s been approved sometime between now and October. With that designation comes a $650,000 federal grant and a $288,000 match from the state.

Even if the application is denied, the local partners plan to open a look-alike clinic and apply for FQHC status again next year.

Unified Superintendent Eric Gallien said the district plans to complete the construction at Julian Thomas no matter what.

“We’re building that space out to become a part of the community school model, so regardless of what goes in there, it will be part of the community school model,” he said.

The new space is set to take up around 5,000 square feet, and the construction will be paid for with $900,000 from the district’s community service fund. Community service funds can only be spent on projects that benefit the community beyond Racine Unified.

School Board member Jane Barbian said she’s heard complaints from the community that the district only uses community service funds to support athletics, which she said is not true.

“This is a good example, we want to make sure the public is aware that this is a good use for it,” Barbian said.

Gordon told the School Board on Monday night that the district plans to start bidding out work on the project in the next couple of weeks.

“A lot is happening behind the scenes even though construction has not started yet,” she said.

Retaining heritage

She added that the district worked to find brick for the project to match the former Garfield School, the oldest portion of Julian Thomas, constructed in 1856.

“Finding historic brick to keep the historic integrity of the building was really important to us and to the community and so we have been successful in securing that,” Gordon said.

Gordon said it’s estimated that the clinic will serve 2,500 patients in its first year and 4,000 in its second. Unified already has a tentative lease agreement with the FQHC board, in which the district would be responsible for cleaning and the FQHC would provide technology, staffing and adhere to safety and security rules laid out by the district.

“A lot is happening behind the scenes even though construction has not started yet.” Jane Barbian, Racine Unified board member

“A lot is happening behind the scenes even though construction has not started yet.”

Jane Barbian, Racine Unified board member

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Reporter

Caitlin Sievers covers education in Racine County with a primary focus on Racine Unified School District. Before moving to the Racine area she worked at small papers in Indiana, Illinois and Nebraska.

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