Hays hired by FCSD#25 to lead its Circles USA Poverty elimination program

District 25's new Poverty Alleviation Support Facilitator Teri Hays, right, made a point during Tuesday night's school board meeting as State Representative Ember Oakley listened. Wyotoday.com photo by Ernie Over

The Riverton School Board Tuesday night welcomed Terry Hays as its new Poverty Alleviation Support Facilitator during a pre-meeting presentation about Circles USA. Superintendent Dr. JoAnne Andre Flanagan said District 25 started talking about the issues that kids and families face that get into the way of their education. “If we could work with the community to help lift those families out of poverty and keep them out of poverty that would be a great accomplishment,” Flanagan said. “Then we found Circles USA which has been very successful in other states doing just that.”

Flanagan said she found it was a viable program for Riverton. “Every agency we talked to is very supportive of the program, and since I didn’t have time to do it, because its a full time job, we put a facilitator position in place. That facilitator, Hays, began working on the project when she joined the District on Monday with specialized training from Circles USA.

The creator of the program, Steve Miller, on a recorded presentation, said the goal of the program is to reduce poverty by 10 percent by 2025 of the students receiving free and reduced lunch meals. “We want to change the culture of poverty to a culture of prosperity,” he said. “We want to move people into jobs.

To do that Miller said the current services in place, “don’t do that. There are too many barriers in the present system,” he said. While some current services can be helpful, he said none of them take people through the entire process. As a result, he said poverty rates has been consistently high for decades. “Services need to be better coordinated to people build plan to meet their needs and get out of poverty.”

And that is where Hays comes in. To visit with all the community groups and organizations to find out what exists, where there is overlap and where there are gaps that need to be filled. 

Flanagan said the work is focused on eliminating silos and get people working together. She said there are still a few steps needed to have a leadership team in place for the project, which she expects to occur in the next several months. 

Sitting in to listen to the presentation were state lawmakers Representatives Ember Oakley and Pepper Ottman and State Senator Tim Salazar.