After several meetings with stakeholders and community leaders, the San Bernardino City Unified School District decided to open family engagement resource centers at six high school sites and create a web portal to direct parents to educational and social services.
“Several parent groups asked for more family participation,” said the district’s Family Resource Center Director Aldo Ramirez. “These centers will serve as a local hub for human aid.”
Presented as the district’s “Family University”, the centers and web portal will focus on four key areas–orientation, navigation, leadership, and employment. Parents will be directed to district and community resources, such as after school tutoring, counseling and crisis intervention, housing assistance, and others.
“Anyone within the district can visit any of the centers at any time,” Ramirez said. “We decided to place them at the high schools to [help serve] the elementary and middle schools in their areas.”
Community groups like the Inland Congregations United for Change (ICUC) attended district strategic planning meetings to voice their concerns with the lack of parent involvement. The organization’s conversation with the district began back in 2009, according to organizer Sergio Luna.
“It took us a long time to push this,” he said. “We told the district that we need to create more centers that teach parents to know the system and engage with their child’s school.”
The 2013 implementation of the state Local Control Funding Formula, which provided school districts autonomy to decide programs and services to spend state funding on, further motivated ICUC to urge the school district to help parents understand the educational system.
“We had to put in the work to ensure funding would go towards parent engagement,” Luna explained. “It was an organizing opportunity. We wanted to make sure they put their money where their mouth is.”
Mirna Barajas, who visits Cajon High School’s parent engagement center to receive English tutoring, finds the district’s help to be useful.
“The director here is good,” she said. “It’s been an easier process for me to understand English and understand the resources for my children.”
For more information, contact the district’s Family Resource Center at (909) 880-4057.