Community Schools Information

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Five possible schools will receive funding to support the development of a Community School for SY 2022-2023. First established by Maine Legislative Action of the First Regular Session of the 127th Legislature, in the Budget bill, Public Law 2015, Chapter 267, the Department of Education is authorized to designate and provide funding for 5 community schools, established in accordance with 20-A MRSA Chapter 333. In providing funds under this subsection, the Commissioner shall give priority to a qualified school administrative unit in which at least 40% of the students are economically disadvantaged students, as determined pursuant to section 15675, subsection 2 and that has more economically disadvantaged students than other qualified school administrative units under this subsection. The Commissioner shall provide state funding directly to the school administrative units in which the designated community schools are located.  Annual state allocations for this pilot project may not exceed $250,000.

Please use this form to submit questions about community schools.

What is a Community School?

A “Community school” is a public elementary or secondary school that:

Participates in a community-based effort to coordinate and integrate educational, developmental, family, health, and other comprehensive services through community-based organizations and public and private partnerships; and

Provides access to services under paragraph A to students, families and the community, such as access during the school year to services before school hours, after school hours and during the weekend, and access to such services during the summer.


What is a Community Partner?

A “Community partner” is a provider of one or more of the following services to students, families, or community members:

  • Primary medical or dental care;
  • Nurse home visitation services;
  • Mental health treatment and counseling services;
  • Developmentally appropriate physical education activities;
  • Academic enrichment activities;
  • Specialized instructional support services;
  • Teacher home visits;
  • Programs designed to improve student attendance at school, including programs that assist students who are truant or who have been suspended or expelled;
  • Mentoring and other youth development programs, including peer mentoring and conflict mediation;
  • Community service and service-learning opportunities;
  • Early childhood education;
  • Programs that promote parental involvement and family literacy;
  • Parenting education activities;
  • Parenting leadership development activities;
  • Child care services;
  • Youth and adult job training, internship opportunities and career counseling services;
  • Nutrition education;
  • Adult education, including instruction in English as a second language;
  • Remedial education and enrichment activities, including expanded learning time;
  • Summer or after-school enrichment and learning experiences;
  • Legal services;
  • Juvenile crime prevention and rehabilitation programs;
  • Homelessness prevention services; or
  • Any appropriate services and programs authorized by a community school that are consistent with the services and programs specified in items A to W
    What are the Requirements?

    Establishment of a community school
    A school board may designate an existing school or establish a new school as a community school.
    Community school plan goals
    A community school shall collaborate with community partners to provide services to students, families and community members that promote student success while addressing the needs of the whole student. A school board may designate or establish a community school as long as the community school plan developed by the school board is consistent with the following goals:

    Improving student learning and development by providing support for students to enable them to graduate college-ready and career-ready; Improving the coordination and integration, accessibility and effectiveness of services for children and families, particularly for students attending high-poverty schools, including high-poverty rural schools; Enabling educators and school personnel to complement and enrich efforts to improve academic achievement and other results related to student learning and development; Ensuring that children have the physical, social and emotional well-being to come to school ready to engage in the learning process every day;

    Following the designation or establishment of a community school, but before the opening of a community school, a school board shall conduct:

    A community needs an audit to identify the academic, physical, social, emotional, health, mental health, and civic needs of students and their families that may affect student learning and academic achievement. A community resource assessment of potential resources, services, and opportunities available within or near the community that students, families, and community members may access and integrate into the community school. For an existing school designated as a community school, an operations and instructional audit ( Describe how you will integrate the community needs of students affecting learning and achievement and the services/resources that families can access within the facilities structure of your school).

    • Promoting and enabling family and community engagement in the education of children;
    • Enabling more efficient use of federal, state, local, and private sector resources that serve children and families;
    • Facilitating the coordination and integration of programs and services operated by community-based organizations, nonprofit organizations, and state, local and tribal governments;
    • Engaging students as resources for their communities and;
    • Engaging the business community and other community organizations as partners.

    A school board shall develop a community school plan for each school designated or established as a community school.

    When developing a community school plan for the establishment of a new community school, the school board shall use the results of the community resource assessment under subsection 3, paragraph B to address the specific needs identified in the community needs audit under subsection 3, paragraph A When developing a community school plan for the designation of an existing school as a community school, the school board shall use the results of the community resource assessment under subsection 3, paragraph B to address the specific needs identified in the community needs audit under subsection 3, paragraph A and the operations and instructional audit under subsection 3, paragraph C. A community school plan must coordinate, integrate, and enhance services for students, families and community members at the community school to improve the academic achievement of students and increase family and community involvement in education. A community school plan must include cost estimates or an operational budget for the specified educational, developmental, family, health, and other comprehensive services to be provided by the community school. When developing a community school plan for the establishment of a new community school, a school board shall designate a community school coordinator to manage the partnerships with community partners participating in the community school plan.

    Evaluation measures may include participation data, surveys of community engagement, data relevant to the expected program outcomes, or other relevant indicators. Annual reports will be required, and continued funding will be subject to demonstration that the proposed activities are implemented as described.


    Are community schools public schools?

    Community schools are public schools serving students in grades Prk-12 that partner with families and community organizations to provide a well-rounded education for students’ school success. Community school strategies support existing public schools in the regions and districts they serve by bringing resources and support to students both in and out of the classroom. Using public schools as a hub, community schools bring together a wide variety of partners to offer a range of services and opportunities to children, youth, families, and communities. Community Schools are centers of the community, open to everyone – all day, every day, evenings, and weekends. 

    How are community schools different from traditional schools? 

    Community schools are meant to serve the unique needs of students, families, and communities. While there is not a one-size-fits-all solution or single answer to address student needs, community schools share common features that support student learning and are anchored in four established pillars of the community school movement.  According to the Learning Policy Institute,, the Four Pillars of community schools are 1) Integrated Student Supports, 2) Expanded and Enriched Learning Time and Opportunities, 3) Active Family and Community Engagement, 4) Collaborative Leadership and Practices. The four pillars reinforce each other, and it is this synergy that defines the essence of a comprehensive community school.  Together, they ensure that students are engaged and that everyone in the school community feels welcome and supported. They also promote a culture of trust, respect, and collaboration between teachers and administrators and among all school staff, parents and the broader community.  

    What are Integrated Student Supports? 

    Integrated student supports are services used to mitigate out of school barriers to learning, including poverty and racism, and to support student success by providing coordinated health, mental health, and social services through practices such as school-based health centers, vision, nutrition and dental care, counseling, and restorative justice. The coordination and integration of services with support from community-based partnerships help to ensure that children have the physical, social, and emotional well-being to come to school ready to learn. 

    What are Expanded and Enriched Learning Time and Opportunities? 

    Expanded learning opportunities provide academic support, enrichment, and real-world learning opportunities for students. They can include before and after-school programs, weekend and summer opportunities, tutoring, internships, mentoring, and other enrichment supports beyond school hours. Instruction emphasizes real-world learning and community problem-solving to connect students to the issues and challenges of the community and the world around them. Community partners are engaged as resources for education, enrichment, and community development.  

    What is meant by Active family and community engagement? 

    In a community school, active family and community engagement involves intentionally tapping into the expertise and knowledge of family and community members to serve as true partners in supporting and educating students. Opportunities for family members’ collaboration include shared leadership, home visits, Homework Diners, Play and Learns, adult education, workforce development, English as a second language classes, community-wide arts and cultural events, health, and fitness activities. 

    What are Collaborative Leadership practices? 

    Collaborative leadership practices in a community school establish a culture of professional learning, collective trust, and shared responsibility for outcomes in a manner that includes students, families, and community members. Parents and community members are viewed as assets in the school's work and become partners in making decisions about the school and their children’s education. Schools implement a collaborative school governance structure that involves parents, educators, community partners and youth in the older grades. Family members are engaged as decision-makers in the design, implementation, and evaluation of the community school.  

    Do community schools work?  

    In Making the Difference: Research and Practice in Community Schools, evaluations of 20 initiatives nationwide confirm that community schools have a positive impact on what matters most to students, parents, communities, and schools. The report concludes that:  

    • Student learning improves.  
    • Parent and family participation – in their children’s education and the school – increases.  
    • Principals and teachers have more time for quality instruction because the school’s community partners help address non‐academic barriers to learning.  
    • Families have more opportunities and support in caring for and helping to educate their children and in contributing to their community.   
    How does a school become a community school in Maine? 

    Maine Law 20-A, M.R.S.A and Chapter 333 guide schools in Maine through a process of adopting a community school model and includes a set of proven practices that all Maine community schools should implement when becoming a community school: 

    • Conduct a community needs and assets assessment to identify the academic, physical, social, and emotional, health, mental health needs of students and their families. This process allows for school and community members to identify gaps in programs, services and resources that inhibit student achievement and community coherence. This collaborative approach with staff, families, students, and community members builds support and sustainability for community schools. A link to a recommended Needs Assessment Toolkit from the National Center for Community School can be found here. 
    • Conduct a community resource inventory to identify potential resources, services, and opportunities available within or near the community that students, families, and community members may access and integrate into the community school.
    • Create a Strategic Plan that incorporates the school’s vision, values and mission and articulates how assets may be used to address the identified needs with the goal of high academic, and personal outcomes for all students.
    • Convene an Advisory Team to guide implementation and focus on reviewing data to monitor continuous improvement and adjust course as needed.
    How do community schools promote equity? 

    Community schools are a vital component of an equity strategy. They create the conditions necessary for all students to thrive in public schools by focusing attention, time, and resources on a shared vision for all student and school success. 

    What is the role of a Community School Coordinator? How can it be funded? 

    The Community School Coordinator (CSC) is responsible for the implementation, integration, alignment and coordination of the community school strategy at the site level. The CSC facilitates the development and implementation of the strategic plan in collaboration with school and community members/partners. The CSC ensures that programs, services, and supports are aligned, coordinated, and integrated with the core instructional program to avoid duplication or fragmentation of services and supports. The CSC’s work focuses on managing the integration of before and after school programs, family engagement opportunities and integrated support services in alignment with the community school’s vision of success and results. The coordinator is the glue and the anchor for the community school. They have strong relationships with school staff, parents, administrators, and the community. Community school coordinators can be funded through a combination of federal, state, local, public and private funds. Many schools “blend and braid” funding streams to support community school strategies.  

    How many community schools are there in Maine? 

    As of January,2024, there are four schools in Maine that are implementing community school strategies across the four pillars; The Cape Cod Hill Community School in New Sharon, Old Town Elementary School in Old Town, Gerald E Talbot Community School in Portland, and the South Portland Middle School. While many schools in Maine have the words “community school” in their title, they may not be implementing community school strategies with intention.  

    What is the difference between a Community School and a First 10 School and Community? 

    First 10 Schools and Community are “partnerships of school districts, elementary schools, early childhood programs, and community partners that come together to work on improving teaching, learning, and care for young children and their families” (Jacobson, 2019). First 10 Schools and Communities are a specialized form of a community school approach because of their intentional focus on fostering smooth transitions for students between home and school during the early childhood and elementary years.  

    References: Community Schools Fact Sheet, Coalition for Community Schools,, Institute for Educational Leadership,


    Julie A. Smyth
    Director, Office of School and Student Supports
    Phone: 207-592-0949

    Ann Hanna
    Community Schools Consultant