March 26, 2016 |
Francis V. Barnes, a former Pennsylvania secretary of education, said Friday that he is resigning as receiver of the troubled Chester Upland School District, effective May 1. Barnes was appointed chief recovery officer for the district by a Delaware County judge last July after the state sought to replace Joseph Watkins, who had attempted some unorthodox measures to save the faltering school system. The most audacious of Watkins' proposals was a partnership with a Chinese businessman to bring a $1 billion investment into the district and community.
October 11, 2015 |
After months of hearings over the escalating fees that the Chester Upland School District pays to its three main charter schools, a judge Friday agreed the payments should be cut by $20 million, or nearly a third. But to cover the cuts, he also ordered the state to kick in an extra $20 million in subsidies to the bankrupt district. Delaware County Court President Judge Chad F. Kenney approved a recently negotiated deal that would slash the amount the district compensates charters for special education students, and wipe out debt owed to the schools.
June 25, 2015 |
Joe Watkins - then-Gov. Tom Corbett's pick to oversee the Chester Upland schools, which the state said lacked the ability to address their financial disarray - said Tuesday that he is resigning to take a job with a new social-media company. Watkins, who has been the district's chief recovery officer for 21/2 years, will leave Tuesday. He will become executive vice president for external affairs for ElectedFace, a website that aims to connect people to government officials in every political district in America.
December 6, 2014 |
Many in public education have long argued they are fighting a war against conservative interests that want traditional urban schools abandoned rather than improved so that charters and private academies can replace them. The argument gains credibility when you consider how badly the Pennsylvania Department of Education has messed up the Chester Upland School District. Now it is trying to remove Joe Watkins, the district's chief recovery officer, from the position he was appointed to by former state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis in August 2012.
December 3, 2014 |
Pennsylvania's top education official asked a court Monday to remove Chester Upland School District receiver Joe Watkins, saying he had failed to implement a recovery plan aimed at digging the struggling district out of debt and improving its academic performance. Acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq asked Delaware County Court to replace Watkins with Francis V. Barnes, a former state secretary of education. It would be the first time a state receiver has been replaced under the current law, said Education Department spokesman Tim Eller.
March 14, 2014 |
CHESTER UPLAND The Chester Upland School District is laying off nine administrative staff members as part of an effort to reduce a $20 million spending gap, officials said Wednesday. "Given the deficit we face and mandates to rightsize the administrative staff, we have no choice but to reduce the staff size," said state-appointed receiver Joe Watkins, who has been charged with implementing a recovery plan for the ailing Delaware County district. The cuts, which the district had first said would affect 10 employees, will save $1.4 million in next year's $125 million budget.
August 23, 2013 |
CHESTER Community Charter School, the largest charter school in Pennsylvania, was singled out yesterday in a blistering report released by state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, who alleged that the school had improperly collected nearly $1.3 million in state lease payments and had failed to provide children with a quality education. "While those associated with the management of the Chester Community Charter School are making millions off of the backs of taxpayers, the children this charter school serves are not getting the education required to meet state and federal standards," DePasquale said.
June 7, 2013 |
The Chester Upland School District is in "disarray," with "ineffective" governance and financial oversight preventing it from meeting its mission of educating students, according to a state audit. "Those students may never recover from the loss of an effective education, and in the long run, the district's failure could ultimately prevent them from realizing their true potential," Auditor General Eugene DePasquale's report said. The review covered the period from May 4, 2010, through Feb. 26, 2013, during which the 4,505-student district was identified as among the lowest-achieving in the state.
April 19, 2013
The Chester Upland School District's receiver will discuss plans to improve school security at a meeting set for Thursday night. "We're looking to improve safety overall," said Joseph Watkins, the court-appointed receiver. Among the security enhancements Watkins is expected to outline are state-of-the-art metal detectors and X-ray machines at Chester High School and camera monitoring throughout the secondary schools. The meeting will be held at the administration building, 1720 Melrose Ave., starting at 6. - Rita Giordano
February 24, 2013 |
The academically and financially challenged Chester Upland School District ended the last fiscal year with a $2 million surplus, according to a newly released audit report. But the surplus was primarily the result of a $20.5 million settlement the Delaware County district received from the state in a suit over funding, according to the accounting firm that performed the audit, released Thursday night. Other factors included a decrease in expenditures because of declining enrollment, related staff reductions, and improved tax collection, said Chris Herr, manager of Maillie, Falconiero & Co. In the prior fiscal year, the district ended up with a $15.5 million deficit.