When students, families, educators, and the local community all get a say in what will work best for student success, we get a glimpse of how strong our public school system can be. That dream is becoming a reality with Community Schools here in LAUSD.

In 2019, we used the power of our strike to push the district to fund LAUSD’s first 30 Community Schools and last year we pushed the district to expand the model and increase funding. This school year, there are 55 designated Community Schools with eight more on track for the 2024-25 school year.

The Community School model centers on four key pillars — integrated student supports, expanded and enriched learning opportunities, active family and community engagement, and collaborative leadership and practices — and relies on shared decision-making by families, educators, community members, and students themselves. 

For the Community Schools Week of Action April 22-26, schools across LAUSD showcased how the Community Schools model is transforming public education.

When Miramonte Elementary became a Community School, José Vergara was able to level up his unique music program so students from grades one to five have the opportunity to explore music and practice performing in front of a live audience. “No one knows the needs of the community better than the members living in them,” says Vergara. “This is why having community members be part of the decision making happening in schools is beneficial.” This week, Miramonte students shared the stage with Andra Day, Josh Groban, and Rhiannon Giddens at the Music Will 2024 Benefit.

On Tuesday, Leland Street Elementary Community School hosted a resource fair, bringing together 14 local organizations — from neighborhood clinics to a martial arts group — all dedicated to supporting parents and members of the school community. “The Community School Initiative has been instrumental in the facilitation of events like our resource fair,” says Leland Community School Coordinator Edith Romero. “Community Schools bring all stakeholders together with a very intentional focus of improving the academic outcome of our students.”

Earlier this month, 23 young journalists from Hawkins High Community School traveled to Kansas City to attend the 2024 National High School Journalism Conference. For some, it was their first time on a plane. The students were busy from sunup to sundown learning about photojournalism, broadcast journalism, how to conduct interviews, and building leadership skills. Hawkins’ Journalism Teacher Alyssa Moore says students requested more extracurricular activities and field trips to support their learning. And with collaborative decision-making and enriched learning opportunities as key pillars of the Community Schools model, Hawkins High delivered.

Parents at Bertrand Avenue Elementary and Sharp Avenue Elementary Community Schools got the opportunity to complete a five-week leadership program designed to empower parents in being a voice for their kids and community on decisions impacting the school. “Parents don’t realize that they are actually the heart of the school,” says Bertrand Community School Coordinator Iris Moya-O’Dell. “But without them, our kids wouldn’t be here.” Strong family engagement and shared decision-making is a key component of what makes Community Schools so transformative for student success.