May 4 2017
1138 Hollins St 7pm
Community Schools Update/School Needs and Resources
Lou provided the community schools update. The principals and presidents meeting was a success, and the schools were, on the whole, very interested in the community school project. The Committee discussed possible reservations that schools may have. Lou has also had interest from the Goldseker Foundation and a private, currently anonymous funder in supporting the initiative. We expect to submit something to the Goldseker Foundation in early June.
At the meeting Mr Peters, from Vivien T Thomas Medical Arts Academy, suggested that the schools work together to share resources and partnerships, and that a monthly meeting would be a great way to do this. The first meeting was held at 5pm before the Committee meeting and was generally successful, although some of the schools could not attend due to unforeseen conflicts (water main break/flooding etc).
One of the main needs identified was for reading interventions, especially those that could be supported by volunteers. Students are often reading below grade level, and are in need of interventions. The Committee discussed reasons for students reading below grade level including lack of access to reading support at home and the effects of trauma, as well as ways that they could support the schools. These could include finding a way, potentially and Americorps member, to coordinate volunteer recruitment and training across all the schools. Other strategies could include ACTS People of the Word program and reaching out to local schools of education.
James McHenry School Improvement Grant
James McHenry has received a federal School Improvement Grant, which is a multi-year (4) grant that is intended to radically reshape the school. The grant was applied for by the state of Maryland, which then asked Baltimore City Public Schools to apply. The city school system selected James McHenry as one of the recipient schools.
Although the funding will bring a number of resources into the school, the model that the school system is using (at the behest of the state) will call for the entire staff to resign and have to reapply for their positions–including the principal.
The Committee is concerned about losing the progress made over the past two years under the current principal’s leadership, as well as the destruction of trust and position relationships between families and the school. There was especial concern about the possibility of losing the principal, who has been wonderful in building relationships with the families and the community. Lou has advocated for him, and for more community involvement with the director of community engagement at City Schools, but we are not sure what the impact will be.
There is also concern that the spirit of the grant, including robust community and family engagement and supporting existing staff, is not being followed. The Southwest Partnership will stay engaged in the process, and advocate to be more engaged in the process and it’s important that we do so in order to support the students, families, and school.