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Education Committee Urged to Support a Community School Model in Connecticut

CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg, left, and Senate President Don Williams told the Education Committee that the community schools model focuses existing resources to effectively address community needs.

CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg, left, and Senate President Don Williams told the Education Committee that the community schools model focuses existing resources to effectively address community needs.

The Legislature’s Education Committee today heard from a panel of experts on the need for community schools in Connecticut to help improve student achievement, especially in our neediest communities.

Senate President Don Williams, CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg, AFT Assistant Director of Education Issues Shital Shah, Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission Executive Director Werner Oyanadel, and NAACP Chairperson Dr. Ben Foster all spoke in support of SB 1002 An Act Concerning Community Schools.

Waxenberg said, “Schools today need to be lighthouses of hope for all members of the community. Thriving community school models show progress because they fully address all the needs of the students, parents, and the community as a whole.”

Sen. Williams supports the community school model as a different and vitally important approach to turning around public schools. “It focuses all the programs we consider extras,” including meal programs, healthcare services, special education, and English as a second language, he said.

“This is a great model that will help us build on reforms created last year,” said Sen. Williams.

Shah, a community school expert from Washington, D.C., said Connecticut’s poverty rate is nearly 15%. “We need to support our most vulnerable students with coordinated partnerships and integrated services for the students, parents, and community,” she said.

The community school model has been proven effective in various communities across the country, including in California, Washington, Cincinnati, Syracuse, and Washington, D.C.

Waxenberg said the program draws upon existing resources and funds in the Network and Alliance Schools, and creates a coordinated effort with the schools and state social service supports.

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