U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand supports Community Schools
Binghamton's Community Schools program is a model for, supporting students in 32 schools in 10 districts plus four BOCES in Broome County.
Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger and College of Community and Public Affairs (CCPA) Dean Laura Bronstein were joined by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Monday at the University Downtown Center to show support for the Full-Service Community School Expansion Act of 2021.
The legislation, co-sponsored by Gillibrand, would expand community school funding and bolster services for low-income and underserved students, families and communities. Binghamton University Community Schools (BUCS) provides technical assistance and support to 10 school districts, including 32 schools in 10 districts plus four BOCES in Broome County.
Standing behind the Downtown Center on a cold, windy day, the trio spoke of Binghamton’s model Community Schools program and of the potential to do more.
Noting that the pandemic has only deepened the challenges educators and school staff face while trying to support students struggling inside and outside of the classroom, Gillibrand said underserved students are at even higher risk of falling behind, and cash-strapped public schools have had limited funding to support them. “This expanded grant funding would allow for greater federal support for community schools across New York and the country … and deliver critical funding to support the comprehensive needs of students both in and out of the classroom,” she said.
“Over the years Sen. Gillibrand has proven herself a strong voice for important causes,” said Stenger, who added that she had recently voted for passage of the nearly $2 trillion stimulus package to help all Americans. “We are so proud she has chosen to visit Binghamton University and CCPA, where Dean Bronstein and her team have developed and implemented the Community Schools program. Their work has become a successful model for many to follow and is literally changing the lives of our public school children.”
“While common wisdom might make the case that the most significant predictor of educational success is IQ, that is not true,” said Bronstein. “It is zip code. Students from low-income families, which today represent the majority of children in NYS, do not have the same shot at academic success and a productive job or career as do those of us with more means.
“If we want all children to succeed, to graduate and become productive members of society, a national move to create and support community schools is critical,” Bronstein said. “They provide what the best classroom teachers alone cannot — meals for the hungry, after-school and summer programming, access to health and mental health supports, family engagement and other resources that help students succeed and communities thrive.”
The Full-Service Community School Expansion Act of 2021 would:
• Invest $3.65 billion over the next five years to plan, implement, expand and support full-service community schools serving low-income students;
• Provide renewable grant opportunities and additional resources to existing community schools to build collaborative leadership structures and strengthen wraparound services that support the needs of students, families and neighborhoods;
• Build out community school infrastructure by funding the establishment of state-level teams that provide professional development opportunities and resources for community school staff, work with schools and local educational agencies (LEAs) to develop and implement restorative justice principles and collaborate with LEAs on integrating supports for community schools; and
• Set aside up to 5% of funds for technical assistance and support to leverage federal, state and local resources that address healthcare and early childhood education, and connect LEAs with other statewide institutions and funding opportunities.