making moves

New York

UFT tours get mayoral hopefuls weighing "community schools"

New York

Union's 'community schools' initiative gets a boost from the city

Teachers' union president, Michael Mulgrew, greets chancellor Dennis Walcott, at announcement for community school initiative. When teachers' union president Michael Mulgrew announced a grant program last month to bolster social services in schools, he said the union was moving ahead because the Department of Education was not. But today, when Mulgrew announced the schools that will receive grants, Chancellor Dennis Walcott was standing next to him. The two came together in a last-day-of-school show of camaraderie after a year in which relations between the union and the city grew more strained than ever. The joint appearance meant that amount of grant money awarded doubled, to $600,000, since Mulgrew's May announcement. That will make it possible for six schools to bring health and dental clinics, tutoring, counseling programs, and social services to students and their families, as part of a pilot program to create “community schools.” The UFT and Department of Education are each contributing $150,000, and the Partnership for New York City, a coalition of business groups, is adding another $300,000. The initiative is based on a program in Cincinnati that coordinates and targets social services there. The goal is to harness existing services so they are used more effectively. “We put enormous resources into our education system, into our healthcare system, and some of our other service systems, but we don't do a very good job of maximizing the output,” said Kathryn Wylde, president of Partnership for New York City. “We've had services for very long time in New York City. What we want to do now is start coordinating the services at the school site,” said Mulgrew, who was part of the team that began developing the initiative two years ago.