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Study Visit to CAS Schools in Washington Heights by New York State Governor’s Office, NYS State Education Department and the Council on Children and Families

As a result of the increasing interest in, and support for, community schools (CS) in New York State, a high-level delegation from the Governor’s Office, NY State Education Department and the Council on Children and Families, visited P. S.5 and the Salomé Ureña Campus in Northern Manhattan in May.   The group included Elizabeth Berlin, Executive Deputy Education Commissioner,  Katie Campos, Assistant Secretary for Education,  De'Shawn Wright, Deputy Secretary for Education, Gabe Friedman, Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary, Lonnie Threatte, Assistant Secretary for Higher Education,  Sally Bachofer, Assistant Commissioner for Office of School Innovation and Deborah Benson, Executive Director, Council on Children and Families.
Governor Cuomo convened a NYS Education Reform Commission made up of educators, business leaders, elected officials and others to develop a set of recommendations that would guide his education policy making.  In December, 2012 the Commission released its preliminary report in which, among other items, it recommended that the State support community schools, expanded learning opportunities (after-school/summer) and early childhood education.  In response to the report, the Governor included $15 million for community schools in the state budget for fiscal year 2013-2014, which began on April 1, 2013.  The final budget appropriates $15 million to support community schools through a competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) process.  The program will be administered by both the State Council on Children and Families (the Governor’s office) and the State Education Department.  The RFP is expected to be released in early summer.  This is a huge step forward for community schools in NY.  Children’s Aid has been involved throughout the process – briefing the Governor’s staff, advocating for legislation and working with members of the Legislature to support the proposal.   

Following this visit CAS was invited to participate at the June 17 Board of Regents meeting in Albany to discuss our experience with community schools.  After her presentation, NCCS Director Jane Quinn fielded questions from the Regents about results, financing and other aspects of community schools implementation.  

Visitors from GGD South Limburg, Maastricht,  Netherlands

Marjon Lemmens, Senior Policy Advisor at GGD South Limburg, and associates, visited the Salomé Ureña de Henriquez Campus, to learn about CAS community schools with a focus on comprehensive school-based health. GGD is a national organization for preventive health with several departments, Marjon works at the Knowledge and Innovation Department, which focuses on health policy development; her particular assignment is youth health.  GGD is helping implement a healthy-school project in the Parkstad region (South of the Netherlands), characterized by low socio economic status.  Beginning in August 2014 all schools will offer an additional two hours a day five days a week sport and play or arts and cultural program. GGD has been asked to support the process and to do research on the effects of this intervention.  Visitors were particularly impressed by our work with parents as well as by the integrated and comprehensive nature of the school-based health services.  There is a possibility of a longer and larger study visit as the project develops.  Marjon first learned about CAS schools by reading “Bouwen aan enn Community School” the Dutch version of CAS’ “Building a Community School,” translated by Gerard van de Burgwal, et al, and published in Holland in 1998.  NCCS has been helping implement community schools in the Netherlands since 1996.

Group from the New School for Social Research, Castle Bridge and PS/IS 210 Visits CAS Mirabal Sisters Campus

Castle Bridge, PS/IS 210 principals, teachers and parent coordinators as well as staff and graduate students from The New School were part of a study visit to the Mirabal Sisters Campus (MSC).  The New School has been helping both schools become community schools for a year or so. They believe that a conversation with seasoned community school principals, teachers and directors could help solidify the progress of the previous year.  The focus of the visit was on challenges and opportunities of cross-professional partnering, and on parent-community engagement. The visitors also toured the school and heard about the integration of the health services, as well as about extended-learning during the regular school and after-school.  There is interest in continuing the dialogue with their MSC counterparts; the immediate next step is a follow-up study visit.  

Group from Baltimore and New York City Visits NCCS and P.S.5

A delegation from Baltimore Public Schools, the Family League of Baltimore and The Afterschool Corporation (TASC) ExpandED Schools initiative, recently visited NCCS, to meet with CAS leadership and NCCS staff; and P.S. 5 to meet with principal and director, they also toured school.  NCCS has a long-standing relationship to the community school work in Baltimore, having provided technical assistance since their initiative started over a decade ago.  There has been a renewed commitment to community schools, with an expansion to 38 schools as of the 2012-13.  Baltimore is one of TASC’s national ExpandED schools. We will be providing another round of training and consultation to the initiative early in the next academic year.