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By Julian Peeples

More than $649 million will be going to school districts across the state to establish new and expand existing community schools, following an approval today by the State Board of Education (SBE). This is part of the historic $3 billion in funding approved last year, the most in the nation.

“Today, we are seeing educators’ hard work on behalf of their students come to fruition. With this and future investments, as well as a long-term commitment to collaboration and meaningful change, many high-poverty public schools are on the precipice of change, one that will be measurable through improved social well-being, increased graduation and attendance rates and greater academic success,” said CTA President E. Toby Boyd. “An educational model aimed at disrupting poverty, addressing racial, economic and other inequities, and tailored to serve local student and family needs could not be more timely as we seek to help students recover academically, socially and emotionally from this pandemic.”

Awarded through the California Community Schools Partnership Program (CCSPP), the funding supports schools’ efforts to partner with community agencies and local government to align community resources to improve student outcomes. These partnerships provide an integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development and community engagement.

The SBE awarded more than $38 million in community schools planning grants to 193 school districts and county offices of education, with most receiving $200,000. Many school districts with CTA-affiliated local associations won planning grants.

Additionally, $600 million in community schools implementation grants were awarded to 71 districts and county offices. Among many school districts with CTA locals, Oceanside Unified School District will receive $8.3 million and San Francisco Unified will get $33.7 million, while Oakland Unified will receive the largest grant in this funding cycle at $66.7 million.

A community school is both a place and a set of partnerships between the school and other community resources with an integrated focus on academics, health, social services, leadership, and community engagement. Its integrated focus leads to improved student learning, stronger families, and healthier communities.

Today, the SBE also selected the Statewide Technical Assistance Center that will be key to guiding the shared decision-making transformation students in local communities need. The center, which includes support from UCLA and NEA, will assist local districts to ensure authentic governance structures and bottom-up, democratically run public schools to meet the unique needs of local students.

Educators commended Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, the California Department of Education and the State Board of Education for their collective effort. Governor Gavin Newsom has prioritized community schools and doubled down on that commitment by proposing an additional $1.5 billion in the May Revision to the 2022-23 state budget.

“This is a moment for celebration, as California expands its commitment to community schools. At the same time, we know it will take more than funding to create schools that disrupt poverty and other stubborn barriers to learning. It will require hard work, meaningful community and parent engagement and the kind of collaboration that is both transformative and challenging for many of our public schools,” said CTA Vice President David Goldberg. “We are hopeful that today’s action by the State Board of Education is the beginning of a long and ongoing commitment to community schools. Educators cannot wait to get to the work ahead – of meeting our students’ unique needs with their school communities’ unique vision and strengths.”

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