(The Center Square) – One hundred twenty-eight schools throughout California were awarded a total of $750 million in the largest designation of educational funds budgeted to transform thousands of schools in California into community schools.
The grants are part of a $4.1 billion community schools investment to dismantle learning barriers that lead to inequitable student performance by providing supportive services beyond classroom learning.
“With today’s approval of historic levels of funding for community schools, California yet again affirms our commitment to creating schools where all students can thrive,” Governor Gavin Newsom stated.
Within the framework of community schools are integrated student supports that include the “coordination of trauma-informed health, mental health, and social services” and “professional development to transform school culture and climate that centers on pupil learning and supports mental and behavioral health, trauma-informed care, social emotional learning and restorative justice.”
The concept for key learning conditions entail “positive sustained relationships that foster attachment and emotional connections; physical, emotional, and identity safety; and a sense of belonging and purpose,” among others.
State Board of Education President Linda Darling-Hammond said: “Children learn best when they are healthy, happy and deeply engaged in learning. And schools operate at their best when families are connected and empowered to work toward common goals.”
California’s community schools value the collective wisdom derived from experience, family, history, and culture as part of a commitment to assets-driven and strength-based practice within the framework of cornerstone commitments. It also “expects the presence of restorative practice rather than punitive, exclusionary discipline that detaches students from school and from needed supports, too often activating a school to prison pipeline.”
With a commitment to powerful, culturally proficient and relevant instruction it redefines “traditional constructs who teaches, where we learn and how we build understanding.” At community schools leadership is shared with students, families, staff and community members.
“I am grateful to Governor Newsom, the Legislature, State Superintendent Thurmond, and my fellow board members for continuing to prioritize family partnerships, equity, and a ‘whole child’ agenda in public education,” Darling-Hammond affirmed.
As part of the proven practice framework, “strategies to engage school and community interest holders in a coherent process of identifying and curating assets and wisdoms throughout the community” are employed through Community Asset Mapping and Gap Analysis.
The Community School Coordinator is responsible for the overall implementation of all strategies at the school site involving partnerships and programs.
“From ending hunger in the classroom to providing mental health services to our students, we’re equipping schools to meet the diverse needs of their students inside and outside the classroom. As education continues to be under assault in other parts of the nation, we are proud to be a leader in providing our students with the resources they need to succeed,” Governor Newsom said.
Tutoring, nutrition programs, free school meals, health care, counseling, and other social programs are all part of California Community Schools.
As part of the $750 million disbursement which was unanimously approved by the California State Board of Education, Lancaster Elementary was the highest awardee at $30 million to implement the program.