Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand stood at Morristown Central School to call for legislation to expand community school funding and bolster services for low-income and underserved students, families, and communities. The Full-Service Community School Expansion Act of 2021 would deliver more than $3.6 billion to expand community schools in New York State and around the country to provide integrated student support, expanded and enriched learning opportunities, collaborative leadership, and family and community engagement – including medical, mental, and nutrition health services, mentoring and youth development programs, and continuing education courses. Currently, the Full-Service Community Schools grant program is funded at just $30 million and does not have adequate funding to serve New York school districts in need of resources to establish community schools or support those already established. The American Rescue Plan delivered funding to support schools and students throughout this crisis, but more resources are needed to help community schools meet heightened student needs.
Gillibrand recently reintroduced the bicameral Full-Service Community School Expansion Act of 2021 alongside U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and U.S. Representative Mondaire Jones (D-NY). The bill would deliver essential resources for school districts to plan for, implement, and expand community schools in New York State and across the country. It would also further develop the infrastructure to support and provide technical assistance for schools and districts using the community schools model.
“This pandemic has only deepened the challenges educators and school staff face while trying to support students struggling inside and outside of the classroom —underserved students are at even higher risk of falling behind, and cash-strapped public schools have had limited funding to support them. The Full-Service Community School Expansion Act provides a solution,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This bill delivers vital resources, technical assistance, and infrastructure to support states, districts, and schools looking to implement or expand community schools. This expanded grant funding would allow for greater federal support for community schools across New York and the country to bolster student services through academic opportunities and mentoring programs, and provide critical nutritional, medical, and mental health services for students to thrive. I will keep working alongside my colleagues to pass this legislation and deliver critical funding to support the comprehensive needs of students both in and out of the classroom.”
“I am hopeful that Morristown CSD, along with Hammond CSD and Clifton-Fine CSD, will be able to implement an integrated focus on academics, health and social services, and youth and community development if awarded the Full Service Community Schools Grant. This grant would have a significant impact on our ability to provide expanded learning time and opportunities, engage families actively, and foster collaborative practices,” said Staci A. Vaughn, Superintendent of Morristown Central School District. “We are thankful for the support and collaboration from the SLC Health Initiative, and we look forward to partnering to implement these evidence-based and innovative strategies. We sincerely appreciate the support from Senator Gillibrand in her efforts to call for legislation to support the Full-Service Community School Expansion Act of 2021.”
“The Full-Service Community School Expansion of 2021 recognizes that a school is not only a site for learning and development, but also an important institution within each community to coordinate resources and build partnerships that address inequities such as food security, transportation, health care and housing, known as barriers to health and learning,” said Anne Marie Snell, Executive Director, St. Lawrence County Health Initiative, Inc. “The St. Lawrence County Health Initiative, Inc. is grateful for Senator Gillibrand’s advocacy for community schools. This model uses evidence-based, collaborative leadership practices to increase equitable opportunities for school success and overall well-being for our rural students, families and communities.”
“We appreciate the advocacy of Senator Gillibrand to provide resources to expand the community schools model. This is very timely given the barriers to learning that the pandemic has created for students across our state and nation namely academic learning loss, child poverty, and mental health concerns,” said Patrick Brady, Superintendent of Massena Central School District. “Since the Massena Central School District began our community schools model in 2017 we have witnessed first-hand how these services can support students and families while building strong bonds between the school and community. Given this experience, we welcome and strongly encourage the Full-Service Community School Expansion Act of 2021 promoted by Senator Gillibrand, as we believe every school should have access to this invaluable initiative. It can truly be a game changer in public education.”
The St. Lawrence County Health Initiative and the Morristown Central School District recently applied for funding through the Full-Service Community Schools (FSCS) Program to form the Full-Service Community Schools Consortium of St. Lawrence County. The funding would help serve the larger community and bridge academic and non-academic equity gaps for rural and Native American students.
Specifically, the Full-Service Community School Expansion Act of 2021 would:
- Invest $3.65 billion over the next five years to plan, implement, expand, and support full-service community schools serving low-income students;
- Provide renewable grant opportunities and additional resources to existing community schools to build collaborative leadership structures and strengthen wraparound services that support the needs of students, families, and neighborhoods;
- Build out community school infrastructure by funding the establishment of state-level teams that provide professional development opportunities and resources for community school staff, work with schools and local educational agencies (LEAs) to develop and implement restorative justice principles, and collaborate with LEAs on integrating supports for community schools; and
- Set aside up to 5% of funds for technical assistance and support to leverage federal, state, and local resources that address health care and early childhood education, and connect LEAs with other statewide institutions and funding opportunities.
A summary of the Full-Service Community School Expansion Act of 2021 can be found here.
Full text of the legislation can be found here.