LIBRARY FRIEND—Longtime Pittsburgh Public School Board member Thomas Sumpter Jr. is presented the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Hill District Branch, Friend of the Year award, May 19. Sumpter, who will not seek reelection, is pictured with wife Sarah, left, Myrna Sumpter, mother, and Connie Bethel, aunt, far right. (Photo by Gail Manker)

Allegheny County Director of Human Services Marc Cherna is a fan of the “Community Schools” concept—and that’s a good thing, because now that Pittsburgh Public Schools has designated five schools to be the district’s first Community Schools, his department will be providing the bulk of the services they require.

“I think it’s important that schools become more of a community setting,” he said. “I’d love to see them stay open later. Not just as a learning thing, but with supportive, community services. A number of agencies can do this, and the schools choose those partners.”

Community Schools aim to improve student outcomes by combining traditional approaches with community-based resources on site. Through this centralized delivery model, the district hopes to build stronger communities by enlisting parents and families to address barriers to learning.

In a May 18 press release announcing the five facilities designated Community Schools for the 2017-2018 first phase, Superintendent Dr. Anthony Hamlet said he is excited about the initiative’s prospects.

“We know that Community Schools will create a strong connection between educators and stakeholders in the broader community to support students’ academic success by providing holistic services,” he said. “Community Schools are an integrated system of engagement with an approach that values and includes everyone.”

In this first phase of the transition, a 26-member steering committee winnowed down a field of 21 applicants to arrive at the five designated Community Schools: Pittsburgh Westinghouse, Pittsburgh Faison, Pittsburgh Lincoln, Pittsburgh Arsenal 6-8 and Pittsburgh Langley K-8.

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