Press Release

Gillibrand, Jones Call For Legislation To Expand Community School Funding, Bolster Services For Low-Income And Underserved Students

Mar 15, 2021

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Representative Mondaire Jones stood at Spring Valley High School to call for their 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 supports, 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 and Jones 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). 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 help 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.” 

“Every child deserves a quality education,” said Congressman Mondaire Jones.“But before our students can excel in the classroom, they must have their basic needs met. Community schools address the needs of the whole child by providing nutritional, medical, and mental health services; mentoring and youth development programs; technical assistance; and much more. As we work to ensure an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, community schools are one of the most effective tools to close gaps in educational attainment and ensure that students, families, and entire communities have the support they deserve. That’s why I’m proud to sponsor the Full Service Community School Expansion Act, legislation to help provide every young person in Westchester and Rockland — including in school districts like East Ramapo — and across the country the opportunity to thrive in and outside of the classroom.” 

“We are excited and honored that U. S. Senator Gillibrand and U. S. Representative Jones have joined forces on expanding the Community Schools model by calling for legislation in explicit support of The Full-Service Community School Expansion Act of 2021. Today, more than ever, because of COVID, every student has experienced at least one Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE), their laser-like focus in providing equitable, sustainable access to high quality programs and services to our most at-risk students and families – services that may otherwise be inaccessible, will foster the development of the whole child and family’s social-emotional, physical and long-term well-being. Community Schools models bring communities together, building stronger relationships with families and schools, thus resulting in increased rates of attendance, reduced rates of behavioral recidivism and ultimately, best serve our students to graduate on-time with their cohort. It is the focused commitment and dedication of service of Senator Gillibrand and Representative Jones in this Legislation that will provide collective impact and help interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline,” said Dr. Ray Giamartino, Jr. Interim Superintendent of Schools East Ramapo Central School District.

“The funding proposed by Senator Gillibrand and Representative Jones in the Full-Service Community School Expansion Act will allow schools like Spring Valley High School to fulfill the promise of a learning environment that nurtures and sustains the whole child. We will be able to provide more extensive support to our students and their families through collaborative partnerships with community-based organizations, building upon existing relationships. Being able to provide our students with the supports that will allow them to focus on learning is an exciting prospect. This will undoubtedly have an impact on our high school graduation rate and on overall student success,” said Spring Valley High School Principal Karen Pinel. 

“The expansion of the Full Service Community Schools Act will allow us to fulfill our moral obligation to underserved and low-income children and families in our communities by giving them access to supports like health and mental health care, food, before and after school care, and other needs, so they can access learning. Schools serving as community hubs help remove obstacles to learning so children and families thrive because no child and their family should experience anything less,” said Rebecca Christner, Eastern Region Executive Director for NYS Community Schools Technical Assistance Center and Executive Director for Rockland 21C.

New York State Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick said“Public schools provide vital resources to the students and families of our community, far beyond just a quality education. Investing in our schools so that they can offer expanded and enriched medical, mental health, and nutrition services will help our community to be healthier, safer, smarter, and stronger. I am thankful for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Mondaire Jones for introducing this bill and fighting for expanded funding for our public schools.”

Specifically, the Full-Service Community School Expansion Act of 2021would:

·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