OLR Bill Analysis
AN ACT CONCERNING COMMUNITY SCHOOLS.
This bill allows local or regional boards of education to establish a community school or schools to participate with community partners to provide various educational and social services to students, families, and community members during hours when school is not in session. The bill spells out the steps a board must complete in order to establish a community school. These include (1) conducting a school operations audit and a community operations audit and (2) developing a community school plan.
The bill requires boards that establish these schools to report to the state Department of Education (SDE) on the school's progress. In turn, SDE must report to the Education Committee on community schools.
The bill also adds community schools to the list of school turnaround options that can be used under the commissioner's network of schools.
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2013
PROCESS TO ESTABLISH COMMUNITY SCHOOLS
On and after July 1, 2013, a local or regional board can establish a community school at a new or an existing school.
Under the bill a “community school” is a public school that participates in a coordinated, community-based effort with community partners to provide comprehensive educational, developmental, family, health and wrap-around services to students, families, and community members during hours when school is not in session.
Under the bill, a “community partner” is a provider of one or more of the following services:
1. primary medical or dental care,
2. mental health treatment and services,
3. academic enrichment activities,
4. programs designed to improve student attendance at school,
5. youth development programs,
6. early childhood education,
7. parental involvement programs,
8. child care services,
9. programs that provide assistance to students who are truant or who have been suspended or expelled,
10. youth and adult job training and career counseling services,
11. nutrition education,
12. adult education,
13. remedial education and enrichment activities,
14. legal services, or
15. any other appropriate services or programs.
Before establishing a community school, a board of education must complete several steps. It must conduct a school operations audit and a community operations audit to assess the academic, physical, social, emotional, health, mental health, and civic needs of students and their families that could impact student learning and academic achievement. The board must also conduct a community resource assessment of potential resources, services and opportunities available within or near the community that students, families, and community members may access and integrate into the community school.
The board must also develop, based on the community resource assessment, a community school plan that addresses the specific needs identified in the school operations audit and community operations audit the bill requires. The plan must coordinate, integrate, and enhance services for students, families, and community members to improve the academic achievement of students and increase family and community involvement in education.
Reports to SDE
At the conclusion of each school year, any board that has established a community school must submit an annual report on each school to SDE, in a form and manner SDE determines.
The report must (1) evaluate the community school's effectiveness; (2) measure the development and implementation of partnerships with community partners; and (3) provide information regarding student learning and academic achievement, graduation rates, attendance rates, school readiness, the number of suspensions and expulsions, graduate enrollment in institutions of higher education, the degree of communication between schools and families, neighborhood safety, school climate, the degree of parental participation in school activities, student health, student civic participation; (4) the number of students, families, and community members receiving services at the school; and (5) any other information relevant to evaluating the community school. Presumably, certain information would not have to be supplied if it was not relevant to a specific school (i. e. , graduate enrollment data in institutions of higher education would not apply to grammar schools).
Reports to the General Assembly
By January 1, 2015, the bill requires the education commissioner to begin submitting annual reports on community schools to the Education Committee. The report must evaluate the community schools in operation during the prior school year and provide information regarding:
1. state and federal barriers to implementation and effective coordination of services at the community schools,
2. the extent of coordination between state agencies providing services at the schools, and
3. the efficiency and adequacy of local and state programs and policies with respect to student and family services provided at the schools.
COMMISSIONER'S NETWORK SCHOOL TURNAROUND OPTIONS
The bill adds community schools to the list of school turnaround options that can be used under the commissioner's network of schools.
Under the commissioner's network, certain low-performing schools are selected to craft turnaround plans aimed at improving student performance. The state supplies additional funds to help implement a school's turnaround plan, once the commissioner approves it.
The existing commissioner's network law provides a menu of turnaround school models for a school turnaround committee to choose from, including (1) CommPACT schools, as defined in statute; (2) social development model; (3) institution of higher education- or regional education service center-administered schools; and (4) a school reorganization model that includes such mandatory items as block scheduling for math and reading.
Joint Favorable Substitute