The United Federation of Teachers is requesting proposals from Queens schools to join its community school pilot program.
Community schools colocate services for community members beyond students in the facility such as medical help, English as a Second Language classes and food, according to UFT employee Antonina Simeti. The plan keeps the school as a school, but also creates a center for the neighborhood.
In the Bronx, a school’s partnership with a food pantry through the one-year-old program allows students to bring food home. That school is also looking to build a health clinic and a baseball field with funds through the program and partnerships with neighborhood groups.
District 30 Community Education Council members asked questions last Thursday about space, availability and the process to apply.
“Some of our schools are very over-crowded,” CEC member Michelle Norris said.
The UFT will work with schools to locate the center in transportable units without taking already fought-over space, Simeti said.
Another question Thursday night was if the school needed to be open year-round. The school is not disqualified from the program if it isn’t, but year-round availability will be something the UFT and the school will work towards.
Proposals must state what the community’s needs are and what partnerships the school already has with outside organizations. As part of the program the school will undergo a community assessment either via a workshop or a survey as well as hire a resource coordinator.
The program currently serves six schools in lower-income neighborhoods such as Hudson Heights in Manhattan and Sunset Park in Brooklyn.
The program has not branched out to Queens yet, “but we would like to have one in Queens maybe two, maybe three,” Simeti said.