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Part Two: Structure and Function

PART TWO: A FRAMEWORK FOR SCALE-UP


THE STRUCTURE OF SYSTEM BUILDING

Communities across the country have shown that, to build a system with the characteristics of shared ownership, spread, depth, and sustainability, school and community leaders must develop collaborative leadership structures with the capacity to carry out key functions. This finding confirms a fundamental insight of systems thinking: Integrated action across important functional areas advances and sustains complex organizations.

Most initiatives have developed a collaborative leadership structure that helps them execute and integrate key functions system-wide. Typically, the structures connect community-wide and site-level leadership, often through an intermediary entity.

  • Community-wide leadership (e.g., school districts, government, United Way chapters, businesses, community- and faith-based organizations) is responsible for overall vision, policy, and resource alignment. It creates the context and capacity for expansion. It serves as a networking vehicle for policy development and communication in which several leaders of community initiatives decide why and how to align their resources to build and sustain a system of community schools.

  • School-site leadership (e.g., parents, residents, principals, teachers, community partners, and young people) is responsible for planning, implementation, and continuous improvement. Leaders ensure that implementation satisfies local needs, aligns with the school’s academic mission, and generates practice knowledge and data to inform improvements in community-wide policy and site practice.

  • An intermediary entity (an organization or a working group composed of key leaders and managers from one or more partner agencies) provides planning, coordination, and management. Leadership powers the work by ensuring communication between community-wide and school-site leaders and by facilitating operational functions at all leadership levels and across school sites. It convenes school and community partners, provides strategic planning, and ensures that what happens at the community leadership level empowers students, families, and practitioners at school sites.
 
Figure 4, A Collaborative Leadership Structure for Community Schools, depicts how leadership is shared. It shows that, while each leadership group has its own key roles and responsibilities, they all work to build capacity in each functional area. A continuous flow of communication and efforts to align the work of both school-site and community-wide leaders is facilitated by intermediary leadership to keep the initiative on track. 


Figure 4. A Collaborative Leadership Structure for Community Schools



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