NEW YORK – At Bronx College and Career Preparatory Community School, Chancellor Carmen Fariña and Deputy Mayor Richard Buery today released the New York City Community Schools Strategic Plan, a plan developed in coordination with DOE, DYCD, DOHMH, and the NYC Children’s Cabinet defining the City’s strategy for building and sustaining the Community Schools model. This plan outlines the growth, funding, and interagency coordination plans to ensure high quality across New York City’s Community Schools, and discusses core elements of a Community School.
Across the City there are 128 Community Schools that have opened or initiated development during the 2014-15 school year. Each of these schools will have a Community School Director who oversees the partnership with a Community Based Organization (CBO) to offer services that meet the social, emotional, physical and academic needs of students.
“Wherever we see obstacles to learning, we are putting in place concrete programs to help students succeed. Community Schools recognize that many students face challenges in life that directly affect their academic performance, and help overcome them by providing services such as counseling, tutoring, medical, and dental services – often right on the school campus. Combined with our Renewal Schools program, Pre-K for All and expanded after-school programs, we are making change at scale that's reaching hundreds of thousands of students,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“Community Schools offer a transformative approach to meeting the needs of every child and will put our students on a path to college and meaningful careers,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “When we engage students, parents, and community partners and come together to raise achievement – as we do in our Community Schools – anything is possible. With this Strategic Plan and with close collaboration across City agencies, we are on our way to expanding the Community Schools model and improving our entire school system.”
“Community Schools are all about increasing the capacity for learning. And we are putting in place the leadership, programs and accountability to ensure New York City’s Community Schools are second to none. This is a key pillar of our strategy to turn around struggling schools and raise achievement in every community,” said Deputy Mayor Richard Buery.
Community Schools are customized to a community’s unique set of needs and they create opportunities available for students, families and communities, including:
• Early childhood programs that ensure that our youngest students are ready to learn when they enter kindergarten.
• Expanded learning that gives kids more opportunities to learn and develop their passions and interests both in and out of the classrooms. These programs may include tutoring, learning a musical instrument, book clubs or robotics.
• School-based health clinics or access to local health providers which allow students to receive medical treatment in school and return to their classrooms ready to learn. They also allow parents to stay at work and avoid taking time off.
• Mental health counselors address students’ mental health problems, including behaviors caused by stress or trauma. They provide classroom teachers with a partner to support students with high needs and allow teachers to focus on academic instruction.
• Drop-out prevention strategies provide mentoring and tutoring to keep students engaged in school and on-track for graduation.
• Robust parent engagement means that families work hand-in-hand with schools and CBOs to develop the vision and are partners in the education of their children. Families can be involved in a myriad of ways, from taking family cooking or GED classes, to serving on the School Leadership Team.
• Adult education programs help parents and caregivers develop personally, provide them with skills to secure better employment, and build strong families. They also help parents demonstrate the importance of education at all ages.
“As one of the pioneers of Community Schools in New York City, and nationally, we have seen first-hand over the past 22 years what can happen for children and families when all the essential elements of the Community School strategy are in place,” said Phoebe Boyer, president and CEO of The Children's Aid Society. “Partnership is the lynchpin of success for Community Schools implementation – between government agencies, parents, the principal and teachers, the community school director, and community-based organizations. Having the City as a fully invested leader in this effort is paramount, and puts us one step closer to realizing our vision of making every school a Community School.”
“I have seen firsthand what a Community School offers for students and families. Students enter the classroom with unique challenges and our state-of-the-art health clinic, internship opportunities for students, and after-school enrichment programs allow us to meet every student where they are. By partnering with groups like The Children’s Aid Society, we are able to address the needs of every student and help ensure their success both in and out of the classroom,” said Kizhaya Roberts, principal of Bronx Career & College Preparatory High School.
The Strategic Plan defines the core values and elements of Community Schools, including expanded learning time, early childhood education, health and mental health services, parent and family engagement and services, and adult and family services. The plan identifies the structures that drive success in Community Schools: strong instruction, robust engagement, and most importantly, a focus on continuous improvement – including utilizing data and assessment to drive growth and ensure Community Schools are meeting the specific needs of their students.
The Strategic Plan details a funding strategy, including leveraging available resources and providing “foundational funding” for schools and tailored strategies for schools, CBOs, and private-sector organizations to invest in, and sustain, Community Schools.
To ensure Community Schools lead to improved student outcomes, the Strategic Plan describes the necessity of a data-focused framework:
• Data framework – Utilizing frequent assessments of student and school-wide data to identify the needs of school populations and neighborhoods to track progress. A data-driven approach will enable school leaders to target and coordinate key supports and interventions for students and families.
• Family and Community Engagement – Community Schools, as described above, are expected to develop and implement a comprehensive engagement plan to make the school a hub of family and community activity, engage parents and families across multiple pathways, and encourage a parent role in school decision-making.
• Capacity Building – The City will enhance trainings and expand professional support for educators and partners to ensure there is a continual development of skills to best use the expertise of experienced CBOs for educators, parents, and community partners working to meet the needs of every child.
As laid out in the Strategic Plan, City Hall will continue to work in partnership with DOE’s Office of Community Schools led by Chris Caruso, the NYC Children’s Cabinet, and the Community Schools Advisory Board to ensure Community Schools are improving academic and life outcomes for students and families.