CASDA and the New York State Community Schools Network collaborated to host a convening of more than 100 community school leaders and supporters at the University at Albany East Campus on August 2 to discuss policy and practice for community schools in New York State.
The gathering was the first-ever statewide convening of New York State community school leaders. It included keynote addresses from Dr. Betty A. Rosa, chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents, and MaryEllen Elia, commissioner of the New York State Department of Education. Both Dr. Rosa and Commissioner Elia addressed the vision of New York State community schools as well as perspectives on policy and practice.
Commissioner Elia encouraged the community school leaders in attendance to develop a clear set of goals and objectives that could assist other districts to create community schools. She also informed the crowd that she would work to ensure sustained state aid that includes $175 million set aside for community schools in the 2016-17 budget.
The symposium included a panel discussion with state education and legislative leaders featuring Cheryl Atkinson and Renee Rider from NYSED and State Assembly members Donna Lupardo and Crystal Peoples-Stokes. Attendees also participated in a number of breakout sessions throughout the day that included such topics as policy and advocacy, stakeholder engagement and professional learning. During the sessions, each group worked together to develop the goals and priorities of the New York State Community Schools Network.
A community school refers to a publicly funded school that serves as both an educational institution and a center of community life. Their goal is to re-imagine a school not just as a place where kids go learn, but also as a place the entire community can go to for a number of needs including health, social services and community engagement. Since 2014, CASDA faculty has worked to facilitate the development of two community schools in Schenectady City School District’s Lincoln and Hamilton Elementary Schools.