On June 18th, the LAUSD School Board’s Committee of the Whole met to showcase the wonderful work from our first cohort of LAUSD Community Schools. The community schools initiative was the result of a board resolution by then-School Board President Steve Zimmer in 2017 and became a reality because of the 2019 teachers strike. One of the demands was to fund two cohorts of community schools for a total of 30 schools. For the 2019-2020 school year, 17 schools were selected from a competitive pool of applicants who met various criteria to qualify. The second cohort of 13 schools has been postponed, but will be selected in December 2020.
Community Schools are a research-based model for public schools that acknowledges that schools extend beyond the classroom doors and makes it a priority to reach out to members of the outside community to come together for students. This is achieved through the four pillars of community schooling: integrated student supports, expanded and enriched learning time, family and community engagement, and collaborative leadership and practices. The Community Schools model views schools, families, and community members through an asset-based mindset and is actively and continuously brainstorming solutions to problems that arise. A Community School Coordinator gets chosen from every school site to take lead on doing a needs/assets assessment, engaging stakeholders, and coming up with creative solutions on their campus.
At the Committee of the Whole meeting, the Board heard testimony from parents, Community School Coordinators, and principals from 6 schools about what they have been able to accomplish, even in the midst of a pandemic. Here are a few examples:
- 74th St. ES: Bring the HEET TV, a project-based program/show that engages African American students in solving real-world problems
- 93rd St. ES: Have provided families with groceries, cleaning products, baby products, personal care items, gas cards, and cash grants to help meet their basic needs
- Alta CA ES: Created a resource bank for their families, offering Spanish 101 classes for their teachers
- Alta Loma ES: Received two Neighborhood Council grants for their “Grandparents as Parents” Program that will also be extended to other surrounding schools
- Euclid ES: Developed remote Lego Robotics for their younger students, and partnered with Disney Musicals in Schools, online Jazz & Hip-Hop classes
- Mendez High School: Conducted home visits to students who were not being responsive once the school transitioned to distance learning and provided those students and their families with water, toilet paper, and other basic necessities
The amazing work of these schools is only funded for a total of three years. We need to expand the number of schools that can become Community Schools and continue to fund the existing Community Schools. These special schools will not be able to continue their important work without a steady, secure stream of funding.
During the July 9th Board Meeting, the Board of Education unanimously voted to approve Jackie’s resolution, Charting Progress and Expanding Support for Community Schools, which will: offer continuing support for our first and second cohort of schools, create a five-year sustainability plan, actively seek funding from the state and other entities, and develop an evaluation tool for assessing progress at our Community Schools. We are thrilled to see the Board take this important step to ensure the success of Community Schools within LAUSD.
If you are interested in your school becoming a Community School, talk to your school principal and school site decision-making team about applying for the second Community Schools cohort.
If you would like to see the full video of the June 18th Committee of the Whole meeting, click here.