How Does a School Become a Community School?

Angelita at ComputerMany Texas schools already use Community School strategies, including adult education, after school programs, early childhood classes, and various social supports for students and families. While these are helpful, having a comprehensive Community School plan ensures that community resources are leveraged and community partners are engaged, programs and supports are coordinated, and a wide variety of stakeholders, including teachers and parents, are involved on a regular basis in school planning. Having a staff person who oversees Community School strategies is vital for the plan to be successful.

Save Texas Schools is proposing legislation that would define how a Texas campus  would become a Community School for purposes of funding, professional support and accountability. A campus would take these steps:

1. Learn About Community Schools: Go online, make a site visit and talk to people who are experienced in developing community schools. Visit the Coalition for Community Schools or Austin Voices for Education and Youth for more information about becoming a Community School.

2. Form a School-Community Partnership Team:  Ask key community partners, volunteers, alumni, parents, teachers, staff and administration to join this team that will guide the planning process.

3. Conduct a Campus and Community Asset/Needs Assessment:  Use public meetings, surveys, focus groups, interviews and other data to find out about your strengths, challenges and resources.Kid Stuff Detective Academy

4. Create a Community School Plan:  Led by your School-Community Partnership team, form a plan that addresses barriers to learning, improves existing academic instruction, brings new programs and resources , and involves the community.

5. Connect with a Lead Nonprofit or Community Partner:  Find a local nonprofit or community organization to help support you as you implement your plan.

6. Gain Approval of the Plan by at least 75% of Parents, Teachers and Staff:  Community Schools are bottom-up, not top-down. Support from the parents and campus is vital for your plan to succeed.

 7. Gain Approval of Your School Board:  Present your plan to your School Board for approval and adoption.