Office of the SuperintendentPaterson Public Schools
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Office of the Superintendent

January, 2010

ANSWERING THE NEED FOR COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

Happy New Year!

            In last month’s message, I discussed our High School Renewal Initiative, which will significantly improve high school graduation rates and incidences of college enrollment among our graduating seniors. I am happy to report that this project is now in full swing. Six individuals have been selected to lead the six sub-committees and we look forward to our first meeting of the entire Renewal Advisory Committee later this month.

            Another important new project is also gaining speed and momentum in the district. 
For over eight years, the Paterson Education Fund (PEF) has expressed interest in helping the district establish a network of Community Schools. Irene Sterling, President of PEF, brought some concrete ideas and partnership opportunities to the district this year and we have all agreed that it is an ideal time to move forward in this area.

            What is a Community School?  Just as it sounds, a Community School is designed to meet the needs of the entire outlying community by providing a complete range of services – from healthcare services and dental care, to mental health counseling and recreational and cultural activities. Jane Quinn, the Director of Community Schools for the Children’s Aid Society and one of our partners in this venture, defines a Community School as a “structured way to organize community assets around student achievement.”            

Health FairEstablishing Community Schools in Paterson would enable us to meet some very important needs and also boost the parent and community engagement that is so critical to student achievement.  I envision a much more profound utilization of our school buildings, provide vital services throughout the city, and more fully utilize our district ‘asset” of comfortable and spacious building sites, for the benefit of students, parents and neighbors. Through a strong partnership with the Paterson Education Fund and JP Morgan Chase, we are moving forward to open one Community School in Paterson this fall, with a total of five Community Schools planned altogether. To help us determine what assets are currently in place and where the gaps exist, we are now engaged in an “asset mapping” study, so that the Community Schools project can address real and identifiable student and community needs.

As we proceed with the High School Renewal Initiative and our plans for Community Schools, we also fulfill our district mission of ensuring that every Paterson graduate is prepared for success in the institution of higher education of their choosing and in their chosen profession.

Donnie W. Evans, Ed.D.
State District Superintendent
Paterson Public Schools
Superintendent@paterson.k12.nj.us

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