CASE STUDIES: JOINT USE
City & School Partnerships
Purpose of the Partnership: To support and strengthen the
Sacramento community by developing a successful city/school partnership
that integrates, leverages and improves access to resources; resulting
in improved student achievement, positive development for youth,
enhanced public safety and neighborhood revitalization.
Sacramento City Unified School District
and the City of Sacramento
Background: The city of Sacramento has a long history of
working with school districts to support city and district goals
of improved student achievement, positive development for youth,
enhanced public safety and neighborhood revitalization. These partnerships
include such activities as:
- a joint use agreement in effect for the past 35 years
- various types of recreational and extended learning after
school programs at school sites
- anti- truancy initiatives
- city police stationed at high schools
- Sacramento START
- homework centers at libraries
- serving on school district subject area committees (i.e.,
- city operated school crossing guard program
- city operated school based child care programs
- assisting schools with nuisances and speed bumps to improve
neighborhood safety for children
- city funding of limited school maintenance items (i.e., gym
- replacement of play structures at schools
- police and fire department academies on school campuses
- enrollment of uninsured families for health insurance
- municipal recreation services and community centers are based
around the ideas of community schools.
Efforts at joint strategic planning around mutual goals have
been sporadic and limited in nature. In the past these partnerships
have been characterized by the city providing their services and
programs at school sites, or specific joint projects that arose
due to funding opportunities that addressed critical goals of
one system or another in both organizations.
In spite of these project specific partnerships, there is no systematic
way for the city, county and school districts to plan, coordinate,
and communicate around the multitude of children, youth and family
issues that cross agency boundaries.
Attempts have been made for comprehensive efforts at collaborative
and comprehensive joint planning. In the early 1990's, a joint
retreat between City and SCUSD staff resulted in the creation
of work teams around the following concerns: school facility financing
fees and city growth patterns, programs and curriculum coordination
(gangs and drugs prevention, after school recreation, child care
programs); joint use/co-location of facilities, and operational/administrative
efficiencies (joint reservation systems, purchasing of food services,
shared maintenance). Changing leadership at SCUSD and staff changes
within the city, resulted in a lack of follow through on many
of these initiatives; however, due to individual relationships
some projects did move forward. In 1995-96, efforts to revive
a partnership began.
The following challenges have been identified in developing and
maintaining the partnership:
- Lack of firm commitment from highest level.
- Lack of understanding of the two systems (how they work, how
they are organized, professional language-jargon, etc.).
- Lack of continuity due to changing staff and management teams.
- Establishing continued communication.
- Being creative with limited resources, especially when both
systems were in cut back modes.
- Lack of data to evaluate the benefits of the partnership activities.
- Capacity of the organizations to support the partnership.
Why Now? - The New Political Climate
Since 1995, the political environment has changed. Mayor Serna's
Commission on Education and the ensuing election of a new school
board served to create a new connection and sense of awareness
about the importance of the partnership between the city and the
schools. Today's elected officials don't ask why we should have
a partnership with the schools, but instead ask what the partnership
should look like and what are the issues of mutual interest. What
is lacking is a structure and overall plan on how the entities
can best work together to define and impact those areas of mutual
Over the past year, with continued interest from both governing
boards to support joint efforts between the two entities, several
initiatives have emerged (described below).
The term "Joint Use", What is it?
"Joint Use" for the city and school district is broken
down into one cornerstone concept and three delivery areas:
- Joint use of facilities - Cornerstone Concept
- Community Access - Delivery Area
- Extended day programs delivered together - Delivery Area
- Community/School Partnership (CIP) Program - Delivery Area
Joint use of facilities- Cornerstone Concept:
- Realizing that schools are an asset to neighborhoods and many
times a central facility in neighborhoods they should be maximized
in usage by the community, school and city to access each other's
facilities to deliver services and activities.
- To maximize usage it is important to recognize it's not only
the school districts responsibility to open their facilities.
- One of the values of the city is to revitalize neighborhoods.
The broad term "Joint use of facilities" is broken
down into three types of agreements leading to "Community
Access". They are:
- Creation on a blanket agreement to provide access and share
facilities for single or short time uses.
- Creation of agreements for long term usage of facilities like
child care and START program.
- Specific site development projects (i.e., playgrounds).
- "Community Access"
Key policies in the agreement that were addressed the above were:
- No rental fees.
- Flexibility in scheduling custodial services.
- Cost sharing in areas such as supplies and capitol items,
and custodial coverage beyond normal scheduled hours.
- Direct partner concept provides community groups easier access
to school facilities.
- Regular communication to evaluate the agreement from an operational
Revised joint agreements have been approved for three of the
seven school districts within the City of Sacramento.
Community Access: Opens schools as neighborhood community
centers. Creates a "place" where entire community wants
to come together and gain access to services, activities and opportunities.
Engages and empowers the community. City provides a coordinator
at sites to engage the students, parents and community and identify
partners and coordinate services and activities at the site that
are meaningful to the school and the community. One pilot site
to be opened in April .
Extended day activities for students and adults - The partnership
has produced a true melting of program funds together resulting
in the leveraging of over eight million dollars. These programs
include: "START" at 22 elementary schools, "Passages"
at 8 middle schools, and "4th R childcare program at 16 elementary
school sites. The merging of funds and using the education and
recreation environments of both agencies evolves into a strong
infrastructure to support extended learning opportunities with
homework assistance, tutoring, educational, enrichment, and sports
activities. Classes are usually offered by educational and community
based staff that supports learning goals of the school and provide
recreational and human service opportunities.
There seems to be several steps that have contributed to this
- Trust of each other
- Merging and leveraging of funds.
- Managing programs as one program. (i.e., op-conning of staff.)
Community School Capitol Partnership program: Provides
capitol funds from the city ($1.8 million) for school and community
based capitol improvements that support or enhance community access
to schools. The city is in the process of establishing project
selection and criteria.
Creation of an institutionalized partnership
Given the current political support and the commitment to the
above cornerstone and delivery strategies, staff are now seeking
ways to better institutionalize the partnership by creating structures
and mechanisms for ongoing communication and dialogue,joint planning,
monitoring progress on the above efforts, and developing systematic
ways of identifying new opportunities (i.e., joint facility development,
preservation and finance, school to work/service learning and
joint housing of staff ) .
Benefits of the Partnership:
Improved delivery system: access, quality and variety
Maximized use of resources (reduced duplication, better use of
Broader support for each organization?s goals
Increased neighborhood involvement
Expanded knowledge base
Outcomes from the Effort:
Higher quality services/ /more responsive/flexible systems/
More integrated systems mutually supportive of each others efforts/goals
Increased community involvement and access to supports, opportunities
Leveraged resources/likelihood of more sustained efforts
Improved student achievement
Positive youth development