Photo Courtesy of Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office
Mayor de Blasio (c.) and City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña (center l.) made the announcement last week.
By Forum Staff
The de Blasio administration recently announced the expansion of the Community Schools Initiative to 69 new schools this September.
The expansion will bring the total number of Community Schools citywide to 215, exceeding the City’s original projection of 200 Community Schools by 2017. The new 69 Community Schools are funded through the 21st Century Community Learning Center grants, which awarded $25.5 million per year for up to five years.
According to the administration, the research-based education model provides an integrated focus on academics, health and mental health services, youth development, expanded learning opportunities, and family supports are critical to improving student success.
“To reach success in their classes, our students often require some extra support outside the classroom. This expansion allows us to provide additional after school activities, mental health counseling, enhanced family engagement, and so much more,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Community Schools, according to the administration, provide resources, with the core elements being: expanded learning time, health and wellness services, enhanced family and community engagement and targeted attendance improvement strategies. The core structure of a Community School includes a defined partnership with a community-based organization, a dedicated Community School Director, shared leadership and accountability and enhanced data tracking to preemptively address challenges like absenteeism. Based on the local need, and availability of additional resources, Community Schools may also offer a range of services, including School-Based Health Centers, vision screenings, food pantries and adult education courses.
Additionally, the citywide expansion includes 25 CBO partners at the 69 schools. CBOs were selected by schools, based on proven experience working in the community, demonstrated capacity to coordinate partners and deliver comprehensive services through a dedicated on-site Community School Director.
In the fall of 2016, the NYS Education Department released a request for proposal for 21st Century Community Learning Center Funding. The State Department of Education allocated $47.9 million in 21CCLC funding to the City, with $25.5 million awarded to the City Department of Education directly and additional $22.4 million awarded to non-governmental organizations. The 21CCLC grant supports school-CBO partnerships, afterschool and youth development and the DOE aligned proposals with the Community School Strategy to ensure that funding will support expansion. The Office of Community Schools worked with Superintendents to identify schools that met the priorities of each proposal and demonstrated capacity to partner with CBOs, the administration noted.
“It’s essential that we invest in the whole child, and through the Community School model, we are bringing additional social emotional supports, mental health services, and deepening family ties,” said City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “Schools are anchors for the entire community, and by embedding high quality Community Based Organizations into schools, we can meet the needs of students and families. With this expansion, these game-changing resources will benefit more than 108,000 students in all five boroughs.”
City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), chairman of the Council Education Committee, added, “Community Schools empower our children by offering a wide range of services including support groups and childcare for parents, access to healthcare, mentorship and other valuable programs. Thanks to this expansion, 215 NYC public schools will benefit from the initiative. I am pleased that the administration has embraced this common-sense, holistic approach to education. I will continue to work to bring this successful model to additional schools across the city.”