PRESS RELEASE: Reps. Rodriguez, Farney File Community Schools Bills

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                           
Contact: Laura Stromberg Hoke, 512-463-0674
Bills Will Make Communities Key to School Success
February 25, 2015 – AUSTIN – Reps. Eddie Rodriguez and Marsha Farney this morning filed House Bills 1891 and 1892, which will allow struggling Texas schools to adopt the Community Schools model.
The Community Schools model is a nationally recognized alternative that promotes high academic achievement, provides needed support for students and their families, builds strong community partnerships and involves local communities in the planning for their school.
Schools will have the option of transitioning to a community school rather than being subjected to reconstitution, which often involves replacing some or all of a school’s staff members and essentially starting over.
With the Community Schools model, eligible schools would be awarded a modest two-year grant to develop and implement a community school plan. Community School coordinators would recruit community partners, business leaders and other local stakeholders. 
The goal is to establish partnerships and support programs for the students while increasing levels of engagement from parents and the community.
“The idea is to transform the neighborhood public school into a community hub that brings together not only the teachers, parents and students but the community groups and business leaders,” said Rep. Rodriguez. “We need to create a safe and supportive learning environment in which schools do not stand alone but are instead boosted by those around them.”
“The Community Schools model provides the opportunity to create an optimal environment with high levels of community engagement where public schools, and subsequently the students, may achieve their greatest potential,” said Rep. Farney. “This model gives our struggling schools a better chance to improve and help our students achieve academic success.”
“The bills recognize the important factors that create academically successful schools in our smaller towns in Texas — community support, community commitment, and community engagement in the schools, ” said Barry Haenisch, executive director of the Texas Association of Community Schools. “The Community Schools Model provides the ingredients for creating a successful campus while retaining the involvement of local citizens and the governance by the local Board of Education.”
“Community schools provide genuine local control and parental involvement, two things Governor Abbott has stressed,” Texas State Teachers Association President Noel Candelaria added. “They put teachers and parents from the community in charge of their children’s futures, not outsiders who have no personal stake in the students’ success.”