Beth Fertig is the contributing editor for education, covering the New York City public school system for WNYC on air and online at SchoolBook.org. She has covered education in the city for more than 15 ...
City and Union Collaborate on New Community Hubs
Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - 05:55 PM
In a rare display of unity, the teachers' union and the Education Department jointly announced a new pilot program to bring more health care and social services programs for children and their families into six city schools.
The program will turn the schools into community hubs, with the local communities determining which services would be provided.
“Every school is different,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the union, the United Federation of Teachers. “This is not a boilerplate program.”
Mr. Mulgrew announced the grant with Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott at a news conference at union headquarters. The public show of collaboration was noteworthy because the two men have had a frosty relationship, often locking horns over issues like teacher evaluations, school closings and contract negotiations.
“No matter what we may agree or disagree about at times," Mr. Walcott said, "if we're talking about how we benefit our students, then we all have a responsibility to focus our energies on our students.”
The two men were joined by the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, and teachers and principals from the selected schools. The schools will receive a total of $600,000 in grants. The Partnership for New York City provided half the money, while the City Council and the teachers' union are each contributing $150,000.
The pilot program is modeled after a similar partnership in Cincinnati that turned selected schools into community hubs where local businesses, nonprofit groups and city agencies provide health and dental clinics, along with language translation services and computer programs for adults. Schools hubs are open to students and families during the day and evening.
Karen Alford, the United Federation of Teachers' vice president for elementary schools, said the goal was to have the New York City schools with health clinics stay open longer. Some would serve students, while others would also serve family members. She emphasized that it was up to the schools and their communities to decide together what was needed.
"One school might want G.E.D. training, while another will want a bank of computers and job training," she said, adding that parents will be involved in assessing the needs of each school.
Lutheran HealthCare and the Children's Aid Society will work with the schools, as will other providers.
The six schools are Public School 30 Hernandez/Hughes and Community Health Academy of the Heights in Manhattan; Public School 188 Michael E. Berdy and Sunset Park High School in Brooklyn; Public School 18 John Peter Zenger in the Bronx; and Curtis High School on Staten Island.
Guia Marie DelPrado contributed reporting.