NYC CSTAC: NYC Community Schools Spotlight
Already a nationwide leader in the implementation of the community school model, the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Community Schools is in the final stages of welcoming 27 new public schools under the community school umbrella. This will complement the expansion of mental health services for children and families in neighborhoods hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As first reported in December:
The education department plans to flood schools in 27 neighborhoods hard hit by COVID-19 with additional resources by expanding the highly-regarded Community Schools initiative, hiring 150 social workers, and administering a five-minute mental health screen to students in hopes of quickly detecting serious social emotional issues.
City leaders said the initiatives will reach 380,000 students across approximately 830 schools.
“They’re going through trauma. They’re going through a lot of pain, and they need our help,” the mayor said. “We will make it a budget priority to provide this support in the 27 neighborhoods that were hardest hit by COVID. Whatever it takes, we’re going to make it a budget priority even if it means we have to reduce spending in other areas.”
Training has begun for principals of the schools selected for this expansion of the community school model, in preparation for their launch as community schools this summer.
Given the success of community schools in NYC, one local leader is now advocating for all public schools to embrace the model. In an op-ed for the New York Daily News, City Councilman Mark Treyger wrote:
Community schools offer a holistic approach to education, improving outcomes by addressing non-academic barriers to learning. The idea of transforming schools from academic hubs to full-service community centers is not new. We need to make every school in New York City a community school.
New York City has been a leader in embracing and expanding the community schools model. In 2012, the United Federation of Teachers launched its United Community Schools, and in 2014, Mayor de Blasio launched the NYC Community Schools Initiative, which has expanded to 267 schools. These schools partner with a community-based organization to design programming to meet their community’s needs, including after-school; comprehensive health care including vision, dental and mental health services; mentoring and tutoring; family engagement; and adult education. They provide entire neighborhoods with access to critical social services, delivered by trusted providers in a familiar location.