The Peekskill City School District was named one of nine school districts to receive the New York State Integration Program’s Professional Learning Community (“NYSIP-PLC”) Award. This allocates $503,829 of the grant’s total $19.4 million to Peekskill CSD to support select schools until the 2022-2023 school year.
The funds are intended to create school communities where all students have access to an equitable and high-quality education. This is the third phase of the competitive funding effort.
“This grant provides our District with a substantial opportunity to improve our student outcomes by focusing on what students need to be successful and enhancing our current initiatives,” said Peekskill Superintendent Dr. David Mauricio. “The time frame allows us to implement initiatives over a three year period, which is critical for sustainability. Our Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education Mr. Dan Callahan was the lead grant writer for all three phases of this grant, and his success in securing these funds for Peekskill has been instrumental for our District. We look forward to engaging our schools in our continued progress towards excellence.”
“The Integration Grant is an opportunity to address needs for some of our underserved populations,” said Callahan. “Thanks to this funding, we are able to ensure that all students are getting the same opportunities within all of our programs. Moving forward, we can now continue our integration work with our special education and English as a New Language (ENL) students, as well as further develop our Culturally Responsive Education (CRE) work with our staff and our curriculum.”
Background: Phase I
Phase I of the program provided $1.4 million to 23 districts, including Peekskill, in order to design integration strategies tailored to the district’s communities. The program consisted of in-person Professional Learning Community (PLC) sessions. The PLC Curriculum was designed to give participants a comprehensive understanding of the root causes of inequity. Participants in Phase I of the grant received funding allocations to cover their participation in all PLC sessions and related activities. Peekskill’s Phase I work was focused on auditing programs and seeing where students were being excluded. The District also continued professional development for Culturally Responsive Education (CRE), focusing on the representation of cultural diversity in their schools’ curriculum.
Background: Phase II
Phase II provided $2.5 million to 20 districts, again including Peekskill, to pilot the specific integration strategies designed in Phase I. Participants were given funding allocations to hire consultants or use staff time to model, conduct focus groups, or otherwise test their integration plans; conduct community engagement; and take such other actions as may be necessary to successfully pilot the integration plan developed in Phase I. During Phase II, Peekskill not only continued their Phase I work, they also added initiatives that focused on parent education and outreach. This included the expansion of the Saturday Academy program, guidance nights and orientations for high school students and a partnership with LatinoU.
Moving Forward: Phase III
Phase III, under which this current funding is awarded, is designed to allow participants to further implement the specific integration strategies that the district developed in Phase I and then piloted and refined in Phase II. In Phase III, Peekskill will continue CRE work district-wide and focus efforts on having full inclusion in Oakside and Hillcrest Elementary programs. The District will continue this work to advance the progress which has resulted in steady increases in student outcomes and consistent improvement in graduation rates each year.