Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand stood at the Harkness Career & Technical Center 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.”
“The proposed Full-Service Community Expansion Act sponsored by Senators Gillibrand, Brown, and Van Hollen represents an incredible opportunity for our schools and community-based organizations to continue partnering in order to provide the integral connections, supports, and services our students and families need now more than ever,” said Dr. Lynn Fusco, Ph.D., District Superintendent of Erie 1 BOCES.
“We are so grateful that the federal government has been able to provide funding for community schools during the COVID-19 pandemic as there is a great need among all the school districts in the Western New York area to assist with the mental health needs and support of our students. We are especially appreciative of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for supporting and advocating for this initiative,” said David Lowrey, Executive Director of Erie County Association of School Boards.
The Harkness Career & Technical Center, run by Erie 1 Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), helps to meet the needs of students, staff, and communities through more than 25 programs for high school students. Erie 1 BOCES also provides alternative and special education programs.
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.