Eight Children’s Aid staffers headed to Albany this week and met community school advocates from every corner of the state to urge the governor and legislature to beef up the funding for community schools.
Gov. Cuomo included some money in his draft budget, but it falls short of last year’s funding despite the fact that New York State now has about 300 community schools. Meanwhile, advocates from Buffalo, Troy, and Hudson, among many areas that are getting their first try at the community school strategy, arrived at the Capitol with powerful stories demonstrating how quickly a school’s culture can be changed.
They found that many of our elected leaders have already been engaged with community schools in their districts. Senator Jeffrey Klein, leader of the Independent Democratic Caucus, was familiar with all four community schools in his Westchester district. “Community schools are a vital way to help address the real life challenges that students and families face day to day,” said Klein. “We need to make sure that schools have the resources to ensure that students are able to realize their full potential.”
Assembly member Marcos Crespo, a longtime friend of Children’s Aid, depends on community schools in his district to provide fundamental services. “I've personally witnessed the impact that community schools have had on the children and families in my district,” said Crespo.
A strong contingent from Buffalo met with Assembly member Crystal Peoples-Stokes, a champion for community schools. “With community schools,” said Peoples-Stokes we have a prime opportunity for communities across the state to have a real voice in the discussions and decision-making processes that can have a sustained impact on academic success and raise the bar for students who have long been shortchanged by our education system.”
It was a good day in Albany. But there’s still a lot of work to do to not only continue to fund existing schools but ensure that any school that wants to adopt the strategy can.