Chester Upland School District Opens To Higher Expectations - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Chester Upland School District Opens To Higher Expectations

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"Begin to ring our bell to signify the opening of the 2013-2014 school year," said an official.

Small, symbolic school bells rang in a new attitude and a new achievement goal. Last year, for every 100 kids who started school in Chester Upland, only 42 graduated.

"You can have a graduation rate that is, in our case, north of 70%. That's a big deal for us," an official told FOX 29.

The first day of the new school year is the first test of the new school leadership. Like Philadelphia, this district is also under state control. A Chief Recovery Officer was put in charge, and he just hired a new superintendent who worked all summer to increase enrollment by one third. They got 800 kids and their parents to come back to public schools and leave the charters and home-schooling behind. Now the new ones in charge work to recover this district's track graduation record and reputation.

"We went knocking door to door, asking teachers and asking parents for support, asking them for their confidence in our school district, and asking them to re-enroll their children back in our district," says one official.

They've added everything from honors program and, a move toward modern day reality, they're opening up a daycare program in the high school, not for the teachers but so schoolgirls who get pregnant and have children won't drop out. The day care will allow them to come back to school after giving birth while their kids are safe just down the hallway.

"I think that the changes, the new principal [and] the upgrade of the school, all the academics, [is] going to be a positive reaction to the students. And I think it will be a successful year," remarks one parent.

Schools and students are like if a football team. They start a new year in a new season fresh and full of promise in September, and hope to come out winners in the end. For Chester Upland, a winning score would be a 70% graduation rate, nowhere near the best, but for this district, 70% would be an A+ improvement.

"Thank you and thank all of you, but we have to get to class," says a school official.

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