Chester Upland School District History
When the state appointed Joe Watkins as Chief Recovery Officer to develop a recovery plan in 2012, half the students in the District were reading below grade level, and 45% were performing under grade level in math.
However, Chester Upland students are smart. Like students in any other school district in Pennsylvania, they want to be doctors and lawyers. They want to own their own businesses. The students are eager,they are motivated,and we need to give them a school district that will help them achieve their dreams. They have the aptitude, but we’ve got to give them the tools to perform like the bright and creative kids they are.
We’re in the process of implementing a state-mandated Recovery Plan to fix the financial challenges facing the District. And we’re working with the entire community—students, parents, business owners and residents—to change the culture from one of poor outcomes to one of success.
We started at the top by finding a great superintendent, school-district-turnaround expert Gregory Shannon, and by hiring highly experienced financial expert George Crawford as Chief Financial Officer. Then we started asking students to return to our public schools, giving them 44 reasons to come back. As a result of summer grassroots recruitment drives in 2013 and 2014, enrollment is up from the state’s projection of 2,200 students in 2013 to more than 3,000 students in 2013-2014 and to 3,450 in 2014-2015. We’re treating our students and parents as our customers, asking for their business and creating a product they want to “buy.” Now the District’s leadership, staff, students and parents are determined to achieve fiscal stability and academic success.
The new Chester Upland School District is showing marked improvement almost a year into its turn-around phase. Target reading levels have increased by 380% in elementary school students, and kindergarten reading readiness levels have increased by 900%. Incidences of violence at Chester High School dropped 40%.
Recovery is in motion at every school, but public dollars will not propel us all the way to the finish line.
- Find out how you can help us transform the Chester Upland School District into an academically rigorous, safe and nurturing environment where learning takes place.
- Read more about how our CUSD community is making strides toward a culture focused on success:
- For more information about what’s going on in the District, visit the Chester Upland School District website.