Good reporting by NJ Spotlight about how the Community Schools initiative had its beginnings in 2009, but was scuttled when leadership changed.
Also kind of astounding how many basic questions can remain open about how the $12.5 million will actually be spent.
Whichever school is chosen for the initiative, Cerf said the plan is to give the schools greater flexibility and freedom in shaping their budgets, a clear nod to the attraction of charter schools. Among those new freedoms will be the ability to hire staff and to direct funding to address specific needs, he said, something not typically afforded Newark’s public schools.
“I can assure you they will be given the tools and the support to create a level playing field with any school in the district, district or charter,” Cerf said.
At the same time, Cerf faces steep shortfall in his existing budget that likely portends program cuts, and he was quick to point out that this initiative would not be at the expense of other schools.
Private or otherwise, there is the question of what the money will buy. The idea of community schools is to provide additional programs to help the entire family, ranging from in-school health clinics to after-school and job-training classes, even including offerings on weekends and summer.
FNF has committed to providing up to $10 million for the community schools initiative and another $2.5 million to the Opportunity Youth Network, a program intended to help the estimated 3,000 high school-age students each year who have either dropped out or in danger of dropping out of school.