The New York State Afterschool Network (NYSAN) has developed this guidebook, School-Community Partnerships: A Guidebook on Designing an Expanded Learning Time Program, to provide an outline of some of the questions and possibilities that principals and other school leaders may want to consider as they plan for implementation of Expanded Learning Time (ELT) programs through application for the state’s ELT Request for Proposals, as a requirement for Priority Schools, or as a local initiative.
At the core of this guidebook are questions, resources and examples to assist schools in planning effectively with one or more community partners to maximize the enrichment opportunities this additional time can create for students. Community organizations can play a crucial role in bringing essential resources and expertise to schools, complementing and supplementing what the rest of the school day delivers. Community partnerships expand the types of learning experiences to which students are exposed, bringing arts instruction, civics and service, hands-on science, sports and physical fitness, and/or vocational education and career readiness activities into the school schedule. For schools looking to increase student achievement despite challenging circumstances, a high-quality, thoughtfully designed partnership may bring an infusion of new energy, new ideas, and new resources into their work of changing students’ lives.
This guidebook also highlights how schools and community partners can effectively engage parents and students in the planning process. Engaging parents and students from the earliest stages of planning can help ensure that the additional time is seen as an opportunity rather than a burden and that the proposed schedule aligns with families’ needs and other activities. Rethinking the school schedule will impact many facets of the community, from when the school bus driver’s last route ends to when families schedule their summer vacations. Community buy-in is crucial to maximizing the impact of additional time.
The intensity of the demands placed on principals and other school and district leaders are reflected in the structure of this guidebook, which aims to highlight the advantages and challenges of expanding learning time in a succinct and pragmatic way. This guidebook does not pretend to offer a step-by-step approach to implementation, nor will it cover every issue that administrators will encounter. It does, however, suggest models that may be unfamiliar to those who have not previously developed an ELT program and flag issues that are better addressed at the beginning of the planning process than when they arise unanticipated midway into the year.
The guidebook reflects the thoughtful contributions of many experienced providers of ELT, community schools, and afterschool programs who have worked effectively and closely with schools to create true partnerships. Their advice represents best practices from the field and from research on afterschool and ELT.
Watch this webinar, Designing an Expanded Learning Time Program, to learn more about the guidebook and hear about research and implementation in the field.