The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a $2.5 million grant via its full-service community schools program to the city, school district officials said on Friday afternoon.
Funds will support converting John F. Kennedy High School and School 2 into full-service community schools. Some of the services that will follow conversion include in-school health clinic with medical, dental, and mental health services; in-school academic assistance, afterschool and summer programs focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and performing and visual arts.
“This funding goes directly to empowering Paterson families by bringing many of the services they need to the schools their children attend,” superintendent Eileen Shafer. “When families can get the services they need more conveniently, that has a direct effect on our students’ abilities to succeed in school.”
Funds will also support programs to provide transition to elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education; internship opportunities for high school students; career pathways exploration program; chronic absenteeism mentorship; anti-bullying/violence prevention; restorative justice; family nights; parent workshops; adult education programs such as ESL and workforce development; and access to social services.
“As a former teacher, I understand the critical importance of ensuring children have direct access to the services they need to help them succeed in school,” said congressman Bill Pascrell, a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
Pascrell wrote to the U.S. Department of Education to urge the federal government to award the grant to Paterson schools. “This funding will help Paterson add two more schools to make a roster of seven that can address the needs of students in a holistic way and set them on a path of lifelong learning. Providing students and families with health care, counseling, afterschool programs, and many other services will greatly improve the safety and well-being of our Paterson community – most of all, our children,” he said.
The conversion of John F. Kennedy High School and School 2 brings the total number of full-service schools to seven. School officials used previous full-service grants to convert School 5, School 6, School 15, the New Roberto Clemente School, and Frank Napier Academy.
Each school has nonprofit partners. For example, the New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC) has partnered with the district to operate full-service School 5.
Paterson Education Fund, the New Jersey Community Development Corporation, Oasis – A Haven for Women and Children, El Mundo de Colores Child Care Center, Health N Wellness Services, Inc., and Felician University will partner with the district to convert Kennedy and School 2 into full-service schools.
The district will receive the $2.5 million in installments of $500,000 over the next five years. First payment covers Oct. 1, 2018 through Sept. 30, 2019.