Conlee Elementary School will join the family of six other Las Cruces Public Schools designated as community schools, thanks in part to a five-year, $2.5 million Department of Education grant. The funding is part of a $63 million-dollar nationwide DOE initiative to increase social, emotional and mental health needs and to provide academic support for students, educators and families.
An official announcement of the grant was made at Tuesday’s regular meeting of the LCPS Board of Education. Las Cruces was one of 42 local education agencies that were chosen from 240 applicants. The funding will go toward expanding services in existing community schools, will establish Conlee as a community school and will cover salaries for a community school coordinator and funding for additional staff.
Community schools meet the unique needs of the neighborhoods they serve by leveraging local non-profit, private sector and agency partnerships to bring services into school buildings. This includes services such as high-quality tutoring, health, mental health and nutrition services, and high-quality early learning programs, among others, for students and the community.
“The heart and soul of community schools is to improve the educational outcomes of our students,” said Naomi Chavez Lopez, LCPS Community Schools Manager. “One way we are going to do this is to take a transformative approach, cultivated at a local level, and build out a feeder pattern for our community schools. This isn’t a program; it’s looking at an entire framework of services that our school communities need.”
In addition to Conlee Community School, the list of LCPS community schools includes Alameda Community Elementary School, Booker T. Washington Community Elementary School, Doña Ana Community Elementary School, MacArthur Community Elementary School, Mesilla Park Community Elementary School and Lynn Community Middle School. Lynn was the first community school established in the district in January 2017.
The five-year grant provides opportunities for growth to three existing community schools: Booker T. Washington, MacArthur and Lynn. According to Chavez Lopez, these schools were selected based on current student and family needs, student achievement and their needs and asset assessments. Funding will provide a washer and dryer at three of the schools (MacArthur currently has both appliances for family use), calming room essentials and furnishings for family engagement rooms.
With funding for the next five years secured, Chavez Lopez, in partnership with NEA-NM Center for Community Schools, will begin meeting with Conlee families and staff to gauge their community needs.
“This is where we can really educate them on what it means to be a community school,” she added. “From there, they can dream of what their school can become.”
For more information on community schools in LCPS, click here.