School board members can play a critical role in advocating for and supporting the growth of community schools in various communities. School board members can support policies that provide frameworks and guidelines towards the implementation of community schools.
Examples of School Board Policies
The 2002 Cincinnati Board Policy 7500: Community Learning Centers was critical to the launch of a district-wide adoption of community schools (known as Community Learning Centers) in Cincinnati, Ohio. The school board saw the opportunity of a $1 billion bond for school construction and modernization to radically transform its schools, and with demand from the community, seized on the concept of community learning centers that would open schools up to the community as thriving hubs. The board policy states that all district school buildings will serve as Community Learning Centers and provides written guidelines for the establishment of partnerships. Cincinnati Public Schools continues to garner national recognition for its success in turning around the district from an academic state of emergency in 2002 to now the highest-rated urban school district in the state of Ohio, due to their fidelity in implementing community learning centers districtwide.
Watch Cincinnati School Board President, Eve Bolton, talk about the Cincinnati story at the 2014 Community Schools National Forum in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Similar to Cincinnati, the 2008 Hartford Board of Education Policy on Community Schools provides an important anchor and framework to support the development and implementation of community schools in the City of Hartford. The policy ensures a high standard of quality in outlining four components required at all community schools: public-private partnership; community school coordinator; services; and evaluation. This board policy evolved from the Hartford Community-School Partnership, a joint effort between Hartford Public Schools, the City of Hartford Mayor’s Office (including Hartford Office for Young Children and Office for Youth Services), United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut, and community resources, including non-profit organizations, private philanthropy and the business community. The Hartford Foundation has also committed $3.1 million over three years in support of a public-private partnership to help develop "community schools" in Hartford. Like Cincinnati, Hartford has been recognized by the Coalition for its exemplary community schools initiative, fueled by this important board policy.
New: Partnerships, Not Pushouts: A Guide for School Board Members on Community Partnerships for Student Success
This guide provides details on how school board members can lead the way in securing a high quality education for each and every student in their district. It examines the role of individualized learning plans and the leveraging of community partnerships in delivering more time, attention, and personalized and tailored resources directly to students. The guide was developed by the Coalition for Community Schools, the Alliance for Excellent Education, American Federation of Teachers, CASEL, National Education Association, National School Boards Association, Opportunity Action, Opportunity to Learn Campaign, and the Rural School and Community Trust.
Strengthening Community School Partnerships: The Role of School Boards Webinar
During this webinar, participants heard from school board members Eve Bolton from Cincinnati, OH and Jody London from Oakland, CA discuss the important role of school board members in promoting the community school strategy, and the successful outcomes they are seeing in their districts through support of this strategy. Participants received a refresher regarding the community schools strategy from Mary Kingston Roche with the Coalition for Community Schools, and learned from Aaron Dorsey of the National School Boards Association why school-community partnerships through the community school strategy are so important to student success.