Since 1990, school improvement framework called “community schools” has emerged nationally as a way to strengthen neighborhood schools. Today, over 5,000 schools identify themselves as community schools.
Community schools embrace the idea that parents, teachers, administrators, local government, nonprofits and community partners should help plan and improve neighborhood schools, creating a community around the school to make sure that the school is doing well.
This approach has successfully turned around struggling schools both nationally and in Texas. Locally, Austin Voices has partnered with Austin ISD to create two high-functioning community schools at Webb Middle School and Reagan Early College High School. Both campuses were on the verge of closure in 2007-08, but have now made nationally-recognized turnarounds using community school strategies. Currently, Austin Voices is working with 13 campuses to support community school development and priorities.
Elements of a Community School:
- A welcoming campus serving as a Community Hub
- Engaging High-Quality and Enriching Academic Programs
- College, Career and Service Focus
- Shared Planning by Teachers, Students, Administrators, Parents and Community Members
- Community Partnerships Supporting the needs of the school
- Coordinated Social Supports for Families and Students
- Expanded Learning Opportunities (After School and Summer)
- Strong Early Childhood Programs
Austin Voices Community School projects include:
- Reagan Vertical Team, funded through a community partnership grant with AISD and the TEA.
- Lanier Vertical Team, funded by a $2.5 million federal Full Service Community Schools grant through 2020.
- Family Resource Centers, providing campus-based wraparound services for families at Burnet, Dobie Martin, Mendez and Webb Middle Schools, and Lanier, LBJ and Reagan High Schools, as well as surrounding elementary campuses.
- Community-building events, such as HopeFest and Harvest Fest.
- Monthly community school alliance meetings at Burnet, Dobie, Lanier, Martin, Webb, and Eastside Memorial.
- Support for new Community School efforts in Texas, including schools in Dallas, El Paso and Houston.
- Community School legislation through our Save Texas Schools project.
Partnership with state and national partners to promote Community Schools: