On June 18, L.A. Unified’s Committee of the Whole heard presentations from six schools participating in the district’s Community School pilot as well as from several members of the Community School Steering Committee to report back on progress from the first year of the pilot. A comprehensive community school model - one that effectively implements four pillars of integrated student supports, expanded and enriched learning time, active parent and community engagement and collaborative leadership and practice - has been effective in districts across the country in improving student achievement and well-being.
Principals, Community School Coordinators and parents shared how they have utilized the Community School Cohort 1 pilot to develop structures for shared decision-making and to collaboratively assess and address the needs of students and families during school closures this spring, resulting in increased connection to school and community resources for L.A. Unified families.
For example, Polytechnic High School has created the Community School Scoop, a weekly e-newsletter that brings together all the best workshops, community events, wellness resources and announcements that are most relevant to their community.
93rd St. Elementary School developed a family needs and asset assessment in response to COVID-19 and school closures. The Community School Coordinator trained all the teachers to utilize the tool in outreach with families, and the school discovered that food and housing insecurity were greater challenges than virtual instruction.
Alta California Elementary School’s Community School Coordinator created a system for teachers to refer students and families to outside resources and has also been regularly sharing academic, social-emotional and COVID-19 resources via school social media platforms and Google Classroom.
UNITE-LA, as co-convener of the L.A. Unified Community School Steering Committee, presented eight recommendations to improve and expand the Community School pilot in L.A. Unified:
- Build on this critical moment for racial justice and community empowerment to engage our community schools in integrating these discussions with students, family and community;
- Increase attention to instruction and improvement science as Cohort 1 moves into the problem-solving phase of the implementation process;
- Adopt a best-practice validated curriculum for Community School Coordinators and co-construct processes to connect schools with specific technical assistance and PD identified as a need by school teams;
- Formalize a collaborative governance structure and shared decision-making for the community schools initiative and build staffing capacity to effectively implement and expand;
- Develop a Community School Partnership Committee to document existing successful partnerships as models for expansion to assist in brokering and streamlining partnerships across multiple schools and to remove administrative burdens to school partnerships;
- Evaluate early successes and lessons learned from the L.A. Unified pilot, as well as from broader community school efforts in the region;
- Develop a 5-year plan for sustainability and expansion; and
- Connect to and support the expansion of a broader community school movement in the L.A. region that includes existing community school sites and LACOE’s pilot.
The Committee of the Whole, chaired by 5th District Board Member Jackie Goldberg, will report back to the full Board on July 7 with recommendations to the district to improve, evaluate and plan for expansion.
For more information on the Community School partnership with L.A. Unified, please contact Sr. Director of Systems Change Strategy, Carrie Lemmon, at [email protected].