8:33 PM / Tuesday November 29, 2022

14 Jul 2017

City of Philadelphia announces two new community schools

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July 14, 2017 Category: Local Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO:  George Washington High School and Samuel Gompers School


At a press conference today, officials from the Mayor’s Office of Education (MOE), City Council, and School District of Philadelphia announced the second cohort of schools to join the city’s community schools initiative.

Susan Gobreski, MOE’s Director of Community Schools, welcomed the following neighborhood schools to the ongoing initiative:

  • Samuel Gompers School and
  • George Washington High School

Gobreski noted that the two new schools have unique needs and goals, which the City will collaborate with school and District officials to address.

“We are proud to welcome a school as diverse as Washington into our initiative,” Gobreski said. “Students there come from over 45 countries, and as a city that values the contributions of immigrants we are eager to connect the school’s students and community members with greater city resources and opportunities. We also look forward to working with the community at Gompers and supporting their vision of serving the whole community through additional services and partnerships. In a city of neighborhoods, we are glad to be able to expand to reach more places as the initiative grows.”

The City’s goal is to transform at least 25 public schools into community schools by 2020. Each community school receives a full-time coordinator who engages with the entire school community – students, parents, teachers, administrators, service providers and neighbors – to identify its most pressing needs, and works with service providers and City agencies to bring targeted resources directly into the school. The initiative’s goal is to address students’ non-academic barriers to learning, increase community engagement, and support the surrounding neighborhood through needed services.

The two new schools join an existing network of nine community schools, which were announced in July 2016, and launched their planning and implementation phases this year. Highlights from the first year of the initiative include the distribution of 7,000 pounds of fresh and nutritious food to students and families at Edward Gideon School, as well as new internship opportunities for students at Dobbins CTE High School, Kensington Health Sciences Academy, and South Philadelphia High School.

A total of 24 schools applied to join the second cohort. However, the initiative’s expansion is limited to two schools this year due to ongoing legal action against the Philadelphia Beverage Tax, which funds the community schools program.

Among the criteria for school selection were principal and staff willingness; childhood poverty and neighborhood crime rates; health risk factors; support for English language learners; and geographic distribution across the city.

“The community schools approach supports academic success by addressing the health and well-being of students, and strengthens community engagement with schools” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “I am pleased to welcome the staff, students, parents and community members from Gompers and Washington to our initiative, and look forward to a resolution to the Beverage Tax litigation so that we can expand this proven strategy into more schools and neighborhoods over the next several years.”

“This year, Community Schools brought critically important services to students and families who need them, from job training and extracurricular opportunities, to behavioral and mental health resources,” said Dr. William R. Hite, Superintendent of The School District of Philadelphia. “We are excited about the upcoming expansion that will help even more students and community members have access to these key services that will help improve their lives.”

“In just the first year, our community schools are offering significant opportunities for kids and families to further their education and skill sets and to achieve wellness. The tremendous response we’ve gotten from students and communities says everything about the urgent need to expand this initiative throughout our city,” Council President Darrell L. Clarke said. “I commend the Mayor for forging ahead on this vision, which City Council shares, to make sure every Philadelphia public student has what they need to be healthy, active, and engaged — both in and outside of the classroom.”

Evette Jones, Community Engagement Coordinator with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) participated in the announcement. PFT President Jerry Jordan was unable to attend, but shared a statement supporting the initiative and new schools:

“It is extremely exciting to see community schools grow and thrive in Philadelphia. The PFT is looking forward to all the great things that will happen for the schoolchildren, parents and communities of Gompers Elementary School and George Washington High School. The PFT has always been a proponent of community schools as a way to provide children with additional supportive services that foster improved academic achievement. In just two years, this model has grown to include schools in every section of Philadelphia. As with the first nine schools, the PFT will continue to be an integral part of implementing the community schools model. We appreciate Mayor Kenney’s commitment to community schools, and are committed to working in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Education to ensure this model is a success in Philadelphia.”

About George Washington High School:

Located in Northeast Philadelphia, GWHS has a diverse student community in which multiple languages are spoken and over 45 countries are represented. 16.5% of students are English language learners, and there is a high need in the neighborhood for more adult English classes as well. The school has three CTE programs and an International Baccalaureate program. The school is located several miles from the nearest health center and BenePhilly site.

About Samuel Gompers School:

Located in West Philadelphia, Gompers is a K-7 school that will grow to K-8 in the coming year. Most of the school’s students are economically disadvantaged. The school has an active school advisory council and alumni association, and would like to use its available space to offer more supports to the surrounding community.

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