City school board to review Community Partnerships plan with Manchester Proud | Education

Members of Manchester Proud will go before the school board Monday night, seeking an endorsement of the group’s proposed School-Community Partnerships Network.

In February 2020, the Manchester Board of School Committee approved a new district strategic plan.

The plan is founded on a core belief that Manchester’s public schools are an essential community asset, and one aspect involves strengthening and expanding partnerships between Manchester schools and community organizations and businesses. The Manchester School District and city schools already collaborate with an array of nonprofits, businesses, public agencies, faith institutions, and universities and colleges to support students, staff and families.

Members of Manchester Proud and other school officials believe the potential for greater collaboration exists by tapping into the full spectrum of community resources. To that end, Manchester Proud has convened the Partnership Network Work Group — consisting of school and community leaders — to develop a coordinated and sustainable network of partnerships to support students, staff, families and the community.

Manchester Proud has been advertising a paid position with the organization for a few weeks.

Applications for the new community partnerships coordinator position were due last Friday, according to the group’s website.

The new coordinator will collaborate with the Manchester community, its business and community leaders, and the school district and oversee the new School-Community Partnership Network.

Though the new community partnerships coordinator will be an employee of Manchester Proud and will report to the Champion’s Council, the community partnerships coordinator will be located in the school district’s administrative headquarters to ensure alignment between the work of Manchester Proud and the district.

Manchester Proud is governed by its Champion’s Council of 24 community representatives, including Manchester School District officials and teachers. The role of the Champion’s Council is to provide oversight of Manchester Proud’s mission, ensure purpose and alignment of all Manchester Proud activities, and exercise fiduciary responsibilities.

Through fundraising efforts, the new community partnerships coordinator position is fully funded for three years and could be extended.

Payroll and benefits services will be administered by Manchester Proud’s fiscal agent, Granite United Way.

Salary for the position is anticipated to fall in the $55,000-$60,000 range, plus benefits.

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Many NY Students Began Year Without Device, Internet – NBC New York

About 8% of New York’s public school students did not have a laptop or other device to use for remote learning in the first months of the school year, and about 6% lacked adequate internet access, survey results released Wednesday show.

Preliminary results from the state Education Department’s fall Digital Equity Survey showed the greatest deficiencies in higher needs urban and suburban schools.

The report also revealed the level of need in city districts that, as the pandemic closed schools, rushed to obtain wireless hot spots and strike deals with cable companies to provide internet to students without access at home.

After Syracuse schools supplied internet to 8% of students, nearly 1 in 4 students remained without adequate service at the time the survey was conducted, between October 2020 and January. About 16% of Rochester students were in need, even after the district supplied internet to more than a third of students. In Buffalo, the district provided internet to 12% of students, leaving about 2% without access.

About 125,000 New York City students, or about 14% of all students, were without devices and 13% lacked internet access after the nation’s largest school district supplied internet to a third of its students, and devices to 55%.

In rural schools, 7% of students had insufficient internet access.

Cost was the biggest barrier to connectivity in cities, while availability most hampered rural students, according to the survey.

Statewide, about 69% of students had access to school-issued laptops or tablets.

Education Department spokesperson Emily DeSantis said inequitable access to technology and internet service was a priority before the pandemic.

“The closure of New York schools and subsequent shift to remote learning only highlighted this urgent need,” she said in a statement.

A report to be issued following the last of three digital equity summits, scheduled for June, is expected to make recommendations for local, state and federal action, state education officials said. Previous sessions were held in February and March.

More than 2.6 million students were represented in the statewide survey. The results initially were announced by the New York Civil Liberties Union following a public records request. The Education Department made them available on its website.

“This information underscores just how vulnerable our public schools are after decades of under-funding and racial segregation,” Johanna Miller, director of the NYCLU’s Education Policy Center, said in a statement. “Education leaders at every level need to examine this issue with their communities and construct solutions that will heal, restore and compensate for the failure to reach so many kids during the pandemic.”

The survey indicated that more than 91,000 of the 215,000 students without devices attended schools that said they had ordered devices that had yet to be delivered.

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‘Youth are our Future’; MLK’s Legacy Carried on By Scholarship Recipients – NBC Connecticut

This MLK Day, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy is alive and well in southeastern Connecticut. His message is living on through New London county students who receive scholarships in his name.

“The youth are our future and the youth are going to lead us to tomorrow,” said Birse Timmons, who serves as president of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Trust Fund. “Continuing his dream of equality in education.”

The scholarship trust fund helps students of color in New London county gain an education in Dr. King’s name. The fund was founded in 1968. Since then, 180 students have received scholarships.

“The good work of Dr. King is touching all of our lives in a positive way,” said James Mitchell, past president of the fund and current trustee.

This year, the fund was able to award 16 seniors with $20,000 each.

Fatimah Mansour, a senior at Fitch High School in Groton, was one of the recipients.

“You have to do what you believe is right no matter what other people are telling you,” said Mansour, who said that she was honored to have been selected for the scholarship. “Let me be like Martin Luther King. I want to peacefully protest and stand up for what I think is right in the same way that he did.”

Ledyard High School had two students receive the scholarship: Sarah Morales and Mason Bickham.

“He always thought about what he could do, not what people could do for him,” said Morales. “Dr. King was very selfless. He was always looking out for the common good and he really spearheaded this movement so that he could bring people together.”

Mason Bickham (left) and Sarah Morales (right) Picture provided by Ledyard Music.

Bickham and Morales are both members of Ledyard’s chamber choir. In honor of MLK Day, the choir recorded the civil rights anthem, “We Shall Overcome.” The school posted the video online with a link for people to donate to the scholarship trust fund.

“I feel like these scholarships are here so that we remember him in a much greater light than just the history books,” said Bickham, who added that he will work to honor Dr. King through his actions. “I am going to keep moving forward with my education, keep moving forward to become a child therapist, keep moving forward to help those kids.”

The scholarship trust fund is hoping that, with each scholarship, students of color feel empowered to take one step closer to achieving King’s dream.

“We have a long way to go, but we have the foundation in our youth to get there,” said Timmons. “And we will get there.”

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Future of Lynchburg education task force uncertain amid COVID-19 pandemic | Education

The task force began its work in August 2019 and last met Jan. 30 to assess where each group was with their work. At that time, the group was set to deliver a progress report to the city in April and make its final recommendations on what changes should be made in LCS in November 2020. 

But, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the task force and subcommittees canceled all their meetings beginning in March. 

Atul Gupta, a member of the Lynchburg City School Board, said the direction of the task force may need to change. 

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“The needs have changed,” Gupta said. “Online education is in the forefront… all these needs have changed since we started this task force.”

LCS Superintendent Crystal Edwards said collaboration with the members of the task force and their combined experience with education and the city are needed now more than ever. 

“We’re in the middle of a pandemic, and guess what, y’all? Our kids need us,” Edwards said. “So, I think we can do some good work together, putting all the best minds together as we move forward.”

Rachel Gagen, task force member and parent in the division, said she thinks a plan should be made sooner rather than later. 

“Unfortunately, in many ways, time is our enemy,” Gagen said. “These kids who are in kindergarten right now, for the most part, this is their only kindergarten year and if we don’t start soon making a 10-year plan or a five-year plan for them, I fear for their high school years.” 

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