Proposed federal legislation to aid development, support for full-service community schools

Mar 19, 2021

Schools provide much more than just an academic education to students, especially those in underserved or low-income populations.

Sen. Gillibrand joined by educators and administrators of the Erie 1 BOCES Harkness Career & Tech. Center in Cheektowaga.
Credit Ryan Zunner / WBFO News

The Community Schools Expansion Act co-sponsored by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is looking to highlight that need in the community. Erie 1 BOCES Superintendent Lynn Fusco says the funding would be put to good use in a variety of outreach services.

“Most importantly, students will directly benefit from the core tenants of the Community Schools Expansion Act through seamless access to high quality medical treatment, nutrition and health services, counseling and expanded youth development programming,” Fusco said.

The proposed legislation would invest $3.65 billion over the next five years to plan, implement, expand, and support full-service community schools serving low-income students. These “wraparound services” are a crucial part of the legislation, as it will look to establish a resource network and infrastructure to make sure community schools can best serve the needs of their students. 

Those resources would include establishment of state-level teams that provide professional development opportunities for community school staff, work with schools and local educational agencies (LEA's) to develop and implement restorative justice principles, and collaborate with LEA's on integrating supports for community schools. 

Senator Gillibrand said for many students and families, situations and circumstances outside the classroom can often affect performance in the classroom.

“If a student is hungry or dealing with challenges at home, it's harder to focus. It's harder to learn, and it's harder to succeed,” said Gillibrand. “Education experts predict that the upheaval of the pandemic will lead to a learning loss in both math and reading, especially for students who are already left behind and widening the achievement gap. That's why the work of community schools has never been more important. They take a wraparound approach that helps provide students, families, and local communities with the services support and stability that they need to actually thrive.”

Senator Gillibrand hopes to include the bill onto the Build Back Better infrastructure bill which congressional Democrats hope to get passed by April or May.