The full-service community schools at School 6 and 15 received a $2.5 million boost with the announcement of a new five-year grant from the United States Department of Education.
The two schools will each receive $250,000 over the next five years to provide students with wraparound services like in-school medical, dental, and mental health services.
After school programs, academic assistance, evening youth and community programs for students as well as adult literacy and English as second language (ESL) programs for parents are some of the many services that full-service community schools provide to the neighborhoods in which they are located.
“Our school district here in Paterson is being aggressive about this bold vision for the future. We want to be a leader in educating young people in an urban environment and lead the way in community engagement,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell announcing the grant at School 15 on Monday morning.
The full-service community school at School 15 is being led by the St. Paul’s Community Development Corporation while the New Destiny Family Success Center is serving as the lead agency at School 6.
State-appointed district superintendent Donnie Evans said full-service community schools assist in overcoming obstacles faced by city students. “Sometimes they have obstacles that we need to help them overcome,” he said.
Most city students come from impoverished households often with parents who are not able to assist their children with homework – full-service community schools offer after-school homework assistance.
“Our children in this area desperately need this,” said Romana Garcia, principal at School 15. Her school is located in the troubled Sandy Hill section of the city.
“We’ve seen wonderful things happen at the first three,” said Rosie Grant, executive director, referring to School 5, Napier Academy, and New Roberto Clemente.
The director of full-service community schools Tobi Knehr and Evans said the district intends to continue funding the other three schools which were started with federal grant money. Those grants have been used up and now the district must take on the expense of running those full-service community schools.
School officials and community groups all agree full-service community schools have produced great results. “It’s a cost effective solution for closing the achievement gap,” said Pascrell. “The community can’t improve unless the schools improve.”