A Community Partnership SchoolTM EMERGES
Community Schools are characterized by extended services, extended hours and extended relationships that serve not only the students, their families and the teachers, but the community at large. Key program components include after-school and summer enrichment, parent involvement, adult education, financial education, a full-service health clinic with medical, dental and mental health services.
The implementation of a Community Partnership School takes a great deal of thought, planning, and commitment to achieve sustainable, long-term success. The Children’s Aid Society of New York has identified four Stages of Development in a Community School: Exploring, Emerging, Maturing, and Excelling. (the University of Central Florida, College of Health and Public Affairs)
In the Fall of 2016, recognizing widespread interest among leaders across the community, Polk County Public Schools Superintendent, Jackie Byrd, requested that Polk Vision facilitate the collaborative research necessary to evaluate the potential success of transitioning an existing public school to a community school.
Polk Vision assembled an Exploring Community Schools Team and over a nine-month period, a meticulous process was followed to determine which of the 73 Polk County elementary schools had the best chance for success as a community school. The Team’s work encompassed factors such as school grades, transportation numbers, free & reduced lunch rates, teacher retention rates, suspensions, expulsions, and feeder patterns as well as the locations, building capacity, sidewalks, parking, public transportation, and the potential for expansion.
During a July 2017 work session, the Team submitted its findings to the Polk County School Board and Crystal Lake Elementary was chosen by the Board as the pilot location for the first Community School in Polk County.
Following the School Board ’s selection, five organizations agreed to make a significant, long-term commitment and chose to adopt the University of Central Florida Community Partnership School™ model. Formed as a Cabinet, Polk County Public Schools, Southeastern University, Central Florida Health Care, Heartland for Children and United Way of Central Florida have each made a 25-year commitment to share in the governance, development, and implementation of services at the school.
Over the past year, a top priority for Cabinet members was securing the financial support necessary to begin transforming Crystal Lake Elementary to a Community Partnership School™. While considerable investment was provided by the Cabinet, additional funding was needed to hire essential staff positions including a Director, Afterschool Coordinator, Health Programs Coordinator and Parent Coordinator. Significant financial support was secured through United Way of Central Florida who also assisted in obtaining major funding from the George Jenkins Family Foundation and the Clark Family Foundation.
Crystal Lake Elementary School is registered with the University of Central Florida and is seeking to become a UCF certified Community Partnership School™. Once a Community Partnership School™ has registered, the school is eligible to receive development assistance and to submit for planning or implementation grants. UCF currently is working with 14 Community School initiatives across the state; each in different stages of development. To ensure consistency in the quality of programming as well as strategy and framework fidelity, UCF has developed a process to certify schools that demonstrate alignment with the UCF Standards.
"Crystal Lake Elementary Community School - Community Engagement Grant Recipient"