A lot of people in Chester are convinced that the grand plan for the Chester Upland School District is to drive it into the ground, then convert the whole thing into a series of charter schools.
They believe Gov. Tom Corbett, a big proponent of charter schools and whose campaign was boosted by money from charter school operators, would like nothing more than to simply blow up Chester Upland and start over.
Yesterday’s announcement from Joe Watkins, the man put in place by Corbett to craft a recovery plan for the district, probably won’t do much to change that.
Watkins yesterday unveiled a plan that calls for closing at least three schools, furloughing a big chunk of the staff, and hiring a new superintdendent.
It is not going to be without pain. But it just might be Chester Upland’s last chance.
In addition to cuts, Watkins made clear one of the plan’s goals is to reclaim students who have deserted the district in droves. Half of Chester Upland’s students now attend charter schools, proving a huge financial drain on the district.
Chester Upland has been troubled for a long time. It is not going to recover overnight.
It has 10 days to review Watkins’ plan and decide whether to accept or reject it. If they give it a thumbs down, they face another complete state takeover.
The clock is ticking.