For the first time in as long as two decades, the Sacramento City Council and Sacramento City Unified School District’s board will hold a joint meeting on Tuesday evening.
Just by itself, that is encouraging. Having city leaders and the school district on the same page would be good for both Sacramento residents and the district’s 43,000 students.
How significant a milestone this turns out to be depends on the level of commitment and follow-through.
There are two items on the agenda. The first is a resolution to create a regional “college promise” program to get more Sacramento students to attend college – crucial to reducing income inequality and for creating sustainable economic growth.
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Under the proposal, by September 2019, the city, school board, other school districts, community colleges, universities, business groups and others would sign an agreement outlining their roles and responsibilities to give students the widest choice of options after high school.
This could include better class scheduling, more students taking the SAT, more dual enrollment in high school and community college, easier college transfers and more career readiness programs. Sacramento College Promise also could help students secure more financial assistance.
The second item on the agenda is to explore more joint-use agreements for programs and facilities – especially for the city’s youth – that could offer additional services and even save some money.
One promising area is to allow residents of neighborhoods without city parks or green space to use school facilities more often. Also, school board President Jessie Ryan, who pushed for this meeting, says she believes more closed schools can be reopened as community centers and neighborhood hubs.
That has already happened at the former Maple Elementary, where La Familia Counseling Center operates, and at the former Fruit Ridge Elementary, used by the Social Good Fund. But the highest-profile reopening so far has been the old Fremont School in midtown; the city and school district collaborated with local arts groups to convert it into a new performing arts studio, which opened in 2016.
There also are already some new partnerships under way. The city is helping to fund after-school flag football and basketball for grades 4 through 6. The football season runs from Sept. 26 to Nov. 30, and basketball from Feb. 13 to April 12.
But there is a potential for more cooperation, and for whatever reasons – financial, bureaucratic or others – there hasn’t been enough of it in the past.
There is at least one recent example of what a joint meeting can produce: Last year, the City Council held its first meeting with the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors in recent memory, and it broke a logjam on the local homeless crisis and eventually led to a groundbreaking financial agreement.
Without a similar emergency, there isn’t as much pressure on council members and school trustees. But they should aim high anyway.
Tuesday’s meeting at Luther Burbank High School is apparently the first joint session since November 1999, when the board and council signed agreements to boost efforts for the city’s youth.
Ryan says she expects more meetings in the future, including at least one more later this year. Mayor Darrell Steinberg also insists the meeting is only the first step to making real progress on the two agenda items.
Yes, this get-together is a baby step. But it’s welcome, long overdue and has lots of potential.