Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins on Tuesday released a letter to Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia calling for a boost in funding for community schools in New York.

The letter comes as Elia, who took over the top post at the Department of Education this summer, has called for increased attention and resources be diverted to underfunded and low-achieving school districts.

In her letter, the Yonkers Democrat writes that community schools, which provide an array of services for community members in addition to schooling, are “critically important” for children and should have additional funding allocated to them.

“These schools would provide a high quality, culturally relevant curriculum; health, social and emotional services in high needs communities for both students and their families; and sahre best practices across the state and nation,” she wrote in the letter. “While still relatively new in New York state, the community school program has already demonstrated its value here and nationally by increasing student performance and reducing level of violence, bulling and other problem behaviors.”

The Yonkers Democrat is due to speak later this evening with Board of Regents member Judith Johnson at the Westchester for Change forum on educational inequality. She is expected to focus on community schools benefiting at-risk kids in her remarks.

Senate Democrats earlier this year pushed for a community schools grant program that would provide wraparound social services and empower the education commissioner to award competitive grants to eligible school districts that use existing buildings for community-based hubs.

10 20 15 Community Schools Letter to Commissioner Elia by Nick Reisman