BVSD school board discusses community school model
The Boulder Valley School District is exploring the community schools model as a way to better meet the needs of students and families.
The school board heard a presentation at a working session Tuesday on The Model, which provides services in schools beyond academics, from healthcare to tutoring to mental health counseling, with the help from community partnerships.
âIt really becomes a collaborative effort between families, schools and the community to solve these problems collaboratively,â said Sam Messier, deputy superintendent of strategic initiatives for Boulder Valley. âSchools can function as neighborhood centers. “
Board members were generally supportive and asked district leaders to move forward by taking stock of what is already available in schools and researching models of community needs assessment in the area. purpose of asking parents to provide feedback on what is needed.
Supports that already exist in the district include the Family Resource Schools program, a joint partnership between Boulder and the school district providing âwrap aroundâ services to five elementary schools in Boulder. Clinica Family Health also provides school dental services and referrals to six elementary schools.
On the extended learning side, Emerald Elementary School in Broomfield and Alicia Sanchez Elementary School in Lafayette offer two hours of after-school classes, with bus service, as well as one-to-one math and math lessons. literacy twice a week for some students. Both schools also offer enrichment classes that include robotics, drama, music, soccer, and yoga. Extended Learning Opportunities are funded by a Federal 21st Century Learning Grant.
While Boulder Valley may have some of the elements in place, Messier said, what makes the community schools model effective is the combination of four key elements: built-in supports for students; expanded and enriched learning time and activities; active family and community involvement; and collaborative leadership.
Board member Richard Garcia added that in his experiences working with Latino parents he has found that successful community school programs require a school leader who truly embraces the concept and supports collaboration.
âIt’s about empowering families to make change in their communities and schools,â he said.
The model is most often used in urban areas, especially New York. But Tuesday’s presentation included Carlin Springs Elementary in Arlington, Va., As an example of a successful suburban school with a demographics similar to Alicia Sanchez Elementary.
Carlin Springs offers after-school enrichment activities, academic parent and teacher teams, weekly developmental playgroups for toddlers, computer and language classes for parents, and monthly farmer’s markets. by a local food bank. The city’s social services department also provides mental health, health and dental resources to families, while a full-time public health nurse manages health referrals.
While supporting the concept, board chair Tina Marquis urged the board to consider budget impacts and look to community partners to help cover costs.
The costs of operating a multi-site community school model include one person to oversee the program, program managers in each school, extended hours for school support staff, possible building expansion, and transportation, district officials said.
âIt’s a pretty big commitment, if done right,â said Marquis.