Community Schools advocates praise new Colorado law

By Jon Pompia

THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN

Advocates for Community Schools, including the local teachers union and the Pueblo Education Coalition, received a boost last week when Gov. Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 102 into law.

Though the measure does not provide funding, it does permit a public school wanting to operate as an Innovation School to include status as a Community School in its innovation plan. It also spells out the components of a Community School.

“It raises up a clear, evidence-based definition of Community Schools so that if a school applies for innovation status, there will be a transparent goal for all stakeholders to devise and deliver tailored support services that will help students overcome barriers to academic success,” noted a spokesperson for the Colorado Education Association, which supported the legislation.

According to the National Education Association, Community School is a set of strategic partnerships that allow public schools to comprehensively address the full range of a child’s needs — academic, health, nutritional, psychological — especially those arising from poverty. Community Schools are designed to strengthen students, support parents and build up neighborhoods by aligning schools with community resources.

The National Education Association points out that in Community Schools across the country, there are lower rates of absenteeism, higher enrollment in college preparatory classes, higher graduation rates, and stronger work habits, grades and test scores.

Locally, both the Pueblo Education Association teachers union and the Pueblo Education Coalition are pushing for adoption of the model to help resurrect struggling schools like Risley, which is now under external management due to chronic poor performance.

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