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Legislation & Guidance
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) recognizes community schools as an evidence-based intervention for school improvement and provides multiple avenues of funding for the model and provides the following policy and funding opportunities.
Title I, Part A funds can be used to hire community school coordinators. Further, under Title I, districts can apply for Flexibility for Equitable Per-Pupil Funding, allowing them to develop and implement a school funding system based on weighted per-student allocations for low-income and otherwise disadvantaged students.
Title II authorizes funding for states to provide programs and supports that attend to the whole child—emotionally, socially, physically, and academically—through educator professional development. Implementation of integrated student supports and initiatives focused on removing barriers to learning and improving school climate, teaching conditions, and learning environments benefit from professional development.
Title IV funds can be used to fund community school directors, as well as to support the alignment of community resources
Part A authorizes funding for states to provide programs and supports that attend to the whole child—emotionally, socially, physically, and academically—through the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants programs.
Part B provides funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers that support expanded learning time. This program references the role of a coordinator as an allowable use of funds, signaling to practitioners that they should consider community schools.
Part F, Subpart 2 provides funding for full-service community schools defined as a public elementary school or secondary school that— ‘‘(A) participates in a community-based effort to coordinate and integrate educational, developmental, family, health, and other comprehensive services through community-based organizations and public and private partnerships; and ‘‘(B) provides access to such services in school to students, families, and the community, such as access during the school year (including before- and after-school hours and weekends), as well as during the summer.
In addition, Elementary and Secondary Relief Funds (ESSER II and ESSER III) authorize states and LEAs to spend funds on any educational expense allowed under ESEA/ESSA.
Colorado does not currently provide state-level funding for community schools; however, community schools are recognized as an evidence-based strategy for school improvement in state laws related to Innovation Schools and an option for schools in turnaround status to consider.
Signed into law in 2019, this act permits public schools to include operation as a community school in its innovation plan. Defines “community school” as a public school that
implements an annual asset and needs assessment that engages families, students, and educators in the community;
a strategic plan that includes the creation of problem solving teams;
a process to engage partners who bring assets and expertise to implement the school's goals;
and a community school coordinator who is a staff member at the community school site.
This 2020 revised statute defines "community school" as a public school that implements the following:
(a) An annual asset and needs assessment of and by both the school and the community that engages at least seventy-five percent of families, students, and educators in the community;
(b) A strategic plan that includes the creation of problem-solving teams who are dedicated to continuous school improvement and define how educators and community partners use all available assets to meet specific student needs and achieve better results and utilize key tools and lessons from improvement science in the continuous improvement process;
(c) A process to engage partners who bring assets and expertise to implement the school's goals; and
(d) A community school coordinator who is a school staff member at the community school site and who:
(I) Has the primary responsibility to facilitate the problem-solving teams implemented pursuant to subsection (1.5)(b) of this section; and
II) In consultation with school leadership, shall assemble relevant stakeholders to solve problems identified by the assessment performed pursuant to subsection (1.5)(a) of this section.
Signed into law in 2022, this act authorizes the state review panel to recommend that a district public school be converted to a community school as defined in section 22-32.5-103 (1.5) if the district public school fails to make substantial progress under its turnaround plan.