California has allocated $4.1-billion to develop ‘community schools’ that have the potential to transform K-12 education.
The plan is to enrich schools in areas that struggle with poverty and other social ills to become neighborhood centers to meet the needs of students. These community schools will offer healthcare, mental health services, tutoring, and other social supports.
The aim is to break down barriers, such as hunger, anxiety and depression, racism, and housing insecurity, that detract from the ability of students to learn. Advocates say community schools could vastly improve educational outcomes. This new model is being expanded while a youth mental health crisis and intensified learning deficits are challenging educators after long, pandemic-forced school closures.
Some 268 districts across the state were awarded $649 million in grants for schools in the early stages of planning or for districts further along or seeking to expand. The L.A. Unified School District, which already had 31 community schools, received $44 million. Relatively few schools nationwide—an estimated 5,000—follow the community school model. Some studies have found that well-run community schools lead to better attendance, fewer discipline problems and chronic absences, and better communication with families.