The Prichard Committee will channel nearly $1.5 million to the district over five years
The Danville Independent School District is one of 20 districts that will join the Prichard Committee’s Kentucky Community Schools Initiative.
What this means for the DISD is that the district will receive approximately $1.5 million over the course of five years to create “community-led educational solutions” geared toward Danville students and families.
Part of this work will include hiring a full-time Community Schools District Director, who will be responsible for building community partnerships and leading a community-wide leadership group that will work to identify issues in the district, as well as the larger community, and ways to eliminate barriers and nurture student success.
According to a press release, “the Prichard Committee was awarded a $47 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education last year, and it will channel $30 million of the grant directly into the Kentucky education system through the implementation of full-service community schools, known as the Kentucky Community School Initiative.”
The Kentucky Community School Initiative requires that the district implement the community schools model in two schools. The DISD has chosen Danville High School and Edna L. Toliver Intermediate School.
Chief Academic Officer Suzanne Farmer said the reason for choosing these two schools is because they are the largest in the district based on enrollment, and because focusing on one school at the elementary level and one on the secondary level allows the district to reach more families through the initiative.
These schools will focus on the Four Pillars of Kentucky Community Schools:
- Active family and community engagement
- Expanded and enriched learning times
- Integrated supports
- Collaborative leadership and practices to support high-quality teaching
One useful thing about the grant is that it is up to the district how to use the funds and the direction the district will take to best serve students and families, Farmer said. That is where the community-wide leadership group will come into play. It will consist of local government representatives, faith-based leaders, parents, alumni, students, and other district and community members who know the community and the needs of the schools. The group will pinpoint areas of focus and come up with an action plan to address them.
“One of the things that we put in the proposal is that we want to make sure that our students are at the table, and not just adults,” Farmer said. “So we’d like to have student representation on that council. But more importantly, we want to involve our students through some student-led empathy interviews, where students are asking other students about what we can do to make our schools better, what kind of barriers they’re facing, and what would help them.”
Though the initiative will focus on DHS and Toliver specifically, Farmer said the district will be working to bring what the community learns from this initiative into the other schools in the DISD as well.
Farmer said she “jumped up and down” when she found out the DISD was selected for the initiative. It will lead to further collaboration between staff, students, families and community members. It will also help strengthen existing community partnerships within the district, like the partnerships the district already has with Danville Pediatrics, the Danville Police Department and many other community businesses and organizations.
“One thing that [the Community Schools District Director] position can help us with is being very strategic and cohesive about how we’re using those partnerships across the whole district,” she said.
“I know that our community believes in us and wants to help, wants to be involved. I’ve seen it firsthand. Our families are fantastic, as are our students and our educators. What’s really nice about this model is that I’ve seen so often the power of collaboration, and it’s just going to get better when we improve how we’re working together.”
Farmer is also excited about the role that the district’s Family Resource and Youth Service Centers will play in this initiative, and how it will help the centers identify and remove barriers to student success.
“This will be able to take some things to the next level not just because there’s more money with it, but because we’re going to be learning a lot through this process with the other pilot districts, through the leadership of the Prichard Committee, and it will improve how those centers work,” she said.
But the initiative isn’t just aimed at addressing issues like financial barriers and other barriers to learning — it’s also focused on strengthening academic excellence by giving districts the opportunity to focus on things like postsecondary readiness and academic programming.
As far as the timeline, the district plans to hire the Community Schools District Director, the position funded through the grant, by early December.
- Danville Independent Schools
- Kentucky Community Schools Initiative
- prichard committee