City & School Partnerships
Sacramento City Unified School District
and the City of Sacramento

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.

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., safety, truancy)
  • 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 floors)
  • 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 interest.

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 perspective.

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 program partnership.

  • 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:

Coordinated policies
Improved delivery system: access, quality and variety
Maximized use of resources (reduced duplication, better use of public facilities)
Leveraging resources
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 and resources
Leveraged resources/likelihood of more sustained efforts
Improved student achievement
Positive youth development
Enhanced safety
Neighborhood revitalization