News from Dr. Cruz: Community Schools

Team AISD,

We are fortunate in Austin to have individuals and agencies that want to support our schools. Some are taking the lead on an alternative approach to school improvement. Community schools is an evidence-based model that has led to successful school turnarounds in Austin and other districts.

Community schools bring together partners to offer a range of supports to students and families. The integrated focus on academics, social services and community engagement leads to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities. Teachers can focus on teaching, knowing that their students’ other needs are being met.

I’ve seen the community schools approach work at Reagan High School and Webb Middle School. From near closure in 2007, Reagan and Webb have experienced dramatic academic turnarounds. The schools increased social supports for families and shared planning by parents, community members and teachers. Reagan also implemented a rigorous Early College High School program.

With funding support from the City of Austin, we now have a full-time parent support specialist in every Title I school and Family Resource Centers that provide health care, mental health services and other wraparound services.

Austin Voices and Education Austin are in the first year of expanding the community schools model in the north part of the city. Ultimately, 15 campuses will be community schools.

I am proud of Reagan and Webb for their school improvement. I look forward to the continued focus on community schools so that more of our students and families will receive the supports they need to be successful.

Paul Cruz, Ph.D.