RD448 - Guidance on Best Practices for Local School Divisions to Transition Existing Schools to Community Schools – November 1, 2019

Executive Summary:

In Virginia, there are a growing number of students coming to school from disadvantaged backgrounds, with emotional or mental health needs, and carrying the impacts of trauma and toxic stress. These barriers decrease equity and produce challenges to education, including attendance, access to materials, increased negative behaviors, and hunger. Accessing and navigating the maze of public and private services can be a challenge to students and their families. There may be ample resources in a community, but rarely is there someone on the ground who is able to connect these resources with the schools and students that need them the most. In addition to these challenges, there are disparities among our schools and school divisions in terms of school infrastructure, access to advanced courses, disciplinary rates, and resources. Many traditional school action plans are limited in scope and leave the root cause of student struggles unaddressed.

The community school concept can be traced back to the late 1800s. Since then, several national models have emerged, all sharing a mission to change the role of education so that those often underserved may be supported and empowered. Communities In Schools (CIS) is one such model. Established nationally in 1977, CIS works to build relationships inside and outside the school so that students stay in school and perform well.

Through research of national best practice models, and in collaboration with numerous stakeholders in Virginia, including Communities In Schools, of Virginia, the Virginia Community in School Framework (VCSF) was developed and is provided as an attachment to this report.