SACRAMENTO––The California State Board of Education (SBE) today approved $58 million in contracts to build a network of support for community schools—campuses where every classroom is focused on high-quality teaching and learning, every student is connected to the services they need to thrive, and every family is empowered to partner in decision-making.
The $4 billion California Community Schools Partnership Program (CCSPP) is the nation’s largest investment in the success of high-needs students through a whole-child approach. Community schools partner with education, county, and nonprofit entities to provide integrated health, mental health, and social services alongside high-quality, supportive instruction with a strong focus on community, family, and student engagement.
Research shows that community schools can result in better school attendance, better grades and test scores, higher enrollment in college-prep classes, and higher graduation rates.
“Today’s vote approving the Regional Technical Assistance Centers (RTACs) is another critical investment in California’s initiative to build the best community schools program in the nation,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said. “These RTACs will work on the ground with local educational agencies and school sites to provide essential guidance. This is the moment for us to double down on our commitment to transform public education through the implementation of the CCSPP.”
Community schools are a key initiative of California’s historic transformation of public schools that includes universal free school meals; universal transitional kindergarten; before- and after-school learning; and investments in teacher training, coaching, recruitment, and retention.
At a June event with educators, Governor Gavin Newsom called the support provided by community schools “essential to helping our kids achieve. Community schools provide those resources for local communities to bolster support services. This strategy is the nation’s most ambitious proposal to improve student learning, health, and well-being—full-service schools centered on the lived realities of students and families that deliver whatever students need to help them thrive in the classroom.”
The SBE today approved contracts to eight county offices of education (Shasta, Sacramento, Santa Clara, Monterey, Fresno, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Bernardino) that will serve as RTACs in eight regions:
- Northern California (Butte, Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Plumas, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, and Trinity)
- Capitol Area (Alpine, Colusa, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Sierra, Solano, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba)
- Bay Area (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Sonoma)
- Central Coast (Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and Ventura)
- Central Valley (Amador, Calaveras, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Stanislaus, Tulare, and Tuolumne)
- Greater Los Angeles (Los Angeles)
- Southern Coast (Imperial, Orange, and San Diego)
- Southern Inland (Inyo, Mono, Riverside, and San Bernardino)
RTACs will work closely with the State Transformational Assistance Center (Alameda County Office of Education in partnership with the UCLA Center for Community Schooling, Californians for Justice, and the National Education Association) to help emerging and existing community schools create support networks with like campuses, share best practices, plan for success, leverage funding, and coordinate services.
The California Department of Education (CDE) will be instrumental in overseeing the RTAC contracts and working with the counties to ensure fidelity to the community schools vision shared by California’s collective education community.
“I am grateful to CDE, our county offices of education, districts, and schools for stepping up to take on this important work to support students, families, and educators,” SBE President Linda Darling-Hammond said. “Every school must be a joyful, healthy, instructionally supportive learning environment for children. The Board’s action today moves California one step closer to achieving schools that enable all students to thrive and succeed.”
The contracts awarded today build on the SBE’s action in May to approve $649 million in grants to 268 school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools to assist in planning for new community schools and supporting existing initiatives. Additional planning and implementation grants will be allocated in the 2022–23 school year, and implementation grants will be allocated in subsequent school years.
In January, the SBE approved a California Community Schools Framework that added four commitments to center the initiative on equity: a commitment to a willingness to share power, to using racially just restorative practices, to culturally relevant teaching practices, and to approaching school communities through the positive lens of assessing strengths versus focusing on challenges.
Governor Newsom’s Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health further highlights the critical importance of multi-sector collaboration to support youth mental health and wellbeing. The Master Plan includes the $4.7 billion investment in the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative and lifts up the critical connections to community schools, Medi-Cal reforms under CalAIM, and workforce development.
At Wednesday’s SBE presentation, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly explained the urgent need to address student health and wellness needs in low-income neighborhoods and communities with scant access to doctors and clinics.
Community schools have existed for years, but the CCSSP is California’s first statewide initiative to provide funding, support, and standardization of the program through common guiding pillars: integrated services, including trauma-informed health services; expanded learning time and opportunities; collaborative leadership and practices for educators and administrators to support school climate; and engaging students, families, and the community.