Grain Valley continues to bustle.

But as student enrollment continues to increase each school year at Grain Valley schools, so are the students’ needs, says Grain Valley School District.

And in order to help identify and respond to these student needs – such as lack of nutrition, proper clothing and a number of high school graduates not continuing their education – district leaders are calling out to Grain Valley business, church and community leaders for their assistance in stopping these problems.

Grain Valley Assistant Superintendent Brad Welle, along with Superintendent Roy Moss, presented a 24-hour response plan to Grain Valley business owners, church members, government officials and public service personnel Thursday that would reach out and utilize community resources whenever one of the district’s 550 employees identifies a student with a pressing need, whether from helping to find a coat during the winter, supplying eyeglasses to encouraging graduates to pursue a higher education. The plan is based on a nationwide initiative called Bright Futures, a grass roots and community based program that creates partnerships to utilize resources for the common goal of helping kids and strengthening their families, according to its website.

"It’s not really a group, but a process or concept," said Welle about Bright Futures.

Welle told the Grain Valley community that despite the district having one of the highest high school graduation rates in the Kansas City metropolitan area – more than 97 percent – and with ACT test scores continually rising, some students currently have needs that keep them from excelling. Of the approximate 4,000 students in the district, over 22.8 percent are on the federal free and reduced lunch program, 90 bring food in backpacks for the weekends, 13 are classified as homeless, nine different languages were spoken and only 70 percent out of the last graduating class were continuing their education after high school, he said.

"There are growing needs," Welle added.

The Bright Futures 24-hour response plan works by a district employee identifying a student with a need, followed by reporting the problem to a building site coordinator. If the site coordinator is not able to utilize existing resources to meet the need, they will then contact the district coordinator, who will use social media, such as Facebook, to post a request the Grain Valley community may be able to fulfill.

"These are not only individual students, but groups of students as well (who need help)," Welle said. "Together we can close this gap."

He also stressed the need for Grain Valley graduates to pursue a post-secondary education, especially in today’s economy that requires more specialized training and skillsets. "We (the district) want to know what’s keeping a student from continuing their education after high school."

Welle also invited Grain Valley businesses and organizations to conduct an assessment on what areas need help the most at one of the district’s eight schools over the summer. Burgeoning businesses in Grain Valley, he said, aren’t just offering monetary donations, but actually want to be directly involved with the community, particularly schools. He urged those who are interested in wanting to make a difference in a student’s life to visit the district’s Bright Future Facebook page, or by calling the district at 816-847-5006.

With this sense of communal spirit, Grain Valley may be able to change a child’s future for the better.

"Public schools fill the needs of society," said Welle.