A comprehensive community schools model can improve student achievement and well-being. It is a framework that has gained traction across the nation and has placed participating schools in a better position to respond to the ongoing challenges caused by COVID-19. In other words, community schools are a catalyst for change, which is why many stakeholders in L.A. County stand ready to see the model expand in the region. Adopting a countywide, comprehensive community schools model is one of the L.A. Compact’s priority strategies, and we are excited to work alongside our partners to make this happen. We have started the year strong with the region’s first community schools convening, co-hosted by The Greater L.A. Education Foundation and the Los Angeles County Office of Education, and the launch of the selection process to identify L.A. Unified’s second cohort of community schools.
On Jan. 29, The Greater L.A. Education Foundation and the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) held its first of several virtual convenings to elevate and expand opportunities for community schools work across L.A. County. The title of the convening - Meeting the Moment: Advancing Equity Through Community Schools - emphasized the important role that community schools play in addressing systemic inequities. L.A. Unified and the L.A. Compact were invited to inform the development of the convening.
Dr. Debra Duardo, L.A. Superintendent of Schools, and Genethia Hudley-Hayes, Education and Social Services Deputy with the Office of Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, kicked off the convening with a conversation around the history and future of community schools in the region. Hudley-Hayes shared that she first learned about the value of community schools, especially for marginalized communities, when she was a preschool teacher. She supports a community schools model that focuses on integrated student supports, expanded and enriched learning time, active parent and community engagement and collaborative leadership and practice. She believes we have a shared responsibility to help our students succeed and thrive and pledged to garner the support of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to expand and sustain the community schools movement. Following Duardo’s and Hudley-Hayes’ one-on-one, convening participants learned about leading community school efforts already underway in the region, such as LACOE’s and L.A. Unified’s Community Schools Initiatives.
A few days following the convening, L.A. Unified, with support from UTLA and UNITE-LA, opened its application process for the second cohort of community schools. Schools interested in becoming a community school can apply here until April 9. The district’s Community Schools Steering Committee, which UNITE-LA co-facilitates, will select up to 13 community schools by the end of April. Each school will receive $150,000 for the 2021-22 school year to hire a school coordinator who will work with the school community to conduct a needs assessment and develop an implementation plan. In the following school year, the schools will receive $250,000 to implement the plan developed in year one. The second cohort of schools will join the 17 schools from cohort one in transforming the way they work with families and community partners to provide well-rounded educational opportunities and support for student success. In a few weeks, we will also learn whether L.A. Unified will be a grant recipient of the California Community Schools Partnership Program offered through the California Department of Education. These additional resources would help extend the Community Schools Initiative for another year.
For more information on the L.A. Compact’s Community Schools partnership with L.A. Unified, please contact Carrie Lemmon, Sr. Director of Systems Change Strategy, at [email protected].