Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Why I like Joe Watkins - The Recovery Officer

You probably won't like what Joe Watkins comes up with, but you can't say he didn't tell you so.

I love a straight shooter, and Joe Watkins has consistently maintained his position on what the school district will be excepted to deal with from the first day he was announced. 

Here's my opinions of the Joe Watkins Recovery Plan

Closing Columbus Elementary schools during winter break

This means that a lot of children will be bussed to Main Street and Toby Farms. Since Stetser is closing in the summer, I doubt if the students will be bussed there. If the schools are truly 50% occupied, I guess it's a good move. I just hate to see so many kids taken away from their neighborhood school and put on busses.

Closing Stetser Elementary and the STEM high school housed at the Smedley building during summer break (and moving the administrative offices to Chester High)

This is a no brainer. Get rid of these buildings and it's very likely that Widener will scoop them up in a jiffy. 

Furloughing about 70 staff and faculty members within the next two years.

If you have fewer buildings and fewer students, you can justify fewer staff members.

Hiring a superintendent by April 1

That musical chair position is one of the biggest jokes in town. Hopefully, a long term contract with the right person could make a difference.

Regaining 4.5% of students lost to charter and cyber schools before next year

This is the metric to follow. Mr. Watkins has set a firm number of students and a hard end date. Just watch these numbers and you will know whether the district remains a public school or goes to all charter. 

Adding after-school, summer school and day care programs

Always a great move.

Creating an endowment and seeking private donations

Great idea but this concept is so long overdue that I can't see it gaining any momentum in the next couple years. But it's worth a try.

The only question I have is how does he justify the district going from a $3.2 million deficit to a $181 million deficit in 5 years? I'd love to see that math. 


  1. Watkins and CUSD has a lot riding on the success of this. Because of Watkins reputation, a good number of moneyed and influencial people are waiting to see if the CUSD Board will play ball. If not, a lot of opportunities to support CUSD will leave with the understanding that the board is not serious. Watkins is the unintended "Joshua" that can get CUSD to a very uncertain, but visible promised land.

  2. Did you forget "do a better job of collecting property

    1. Didn't they strike a deal with a collection agency who paid them a fraction of the outstanding taxes as a way to receive some revenue in lieu of continuing to chase down deadbeat property owners for taxes? Is there a better way?

  3. I'vw had the pleasure of teaching at one of the charter schools since the start of this school year. Like any school,we've had our up days and our down days, but, overall, I flipping love these kids- there's nothing like getting a hug from a child who isn't even on your case load. These children deserve the best wether its from a charter school or their district!

  4. Joe Watkins is a staright up guy. I have known him for over 27 years. He has the ear of the Governor and Private Donors with unlimited cash. If he begins to bring Private dollars into Chester then there is real hope for our children.

    Finally, we need to build a few new schools....Chester High looks like a prison. The Capital budget is seperate from the operating budget

    Blane Stoddart

  5. Why would we build new schools and were abandoning schools; that would be hustling backwards. Sounds like a promising outline layed out by Mr Watkins. I believe it will be in our worst interest for the district to turn charter. May God bless and direct the people who will be making these difficult albeit necessary decisions.

  6. For the record Blane Stoddart..... Chester High School has not always looked like a prison... I am a proud graduate of the Chester Upland School District and am appalled that someone who has no idea about the people or places here make statements that inaccurately depict what they think.

    Over time with all of the violence and the some of the uncaring individuals that have worked at CHS has made it look like it does today.

    I wonder if you would be saying the same thing if you would have been around when CHS of yesteryear was the place to be?

    I saddens my heart that the administrators who have been in charge previously had their own agenda and not the agenda of making a better education for our children.

    If you ask any sensible person who has an interest in the children of Chester, should SHOWALTER have been renovated to accomodate the High school children. Most would have answered NO, because there was plenty of room in the high school to accomodate those children.

    Here we have another case of wasting tax dollars. These renovations were just completed what... Two-Three years ago?

    Raise my taxesyou say? For what?

    In my opinion shut everything down and start ANEW!!!!! Trying to clean up this mess is one big headache. If Mr. Watkins doesn;t drink, he probably willafter dealing with allt his mess for sure!

    Good Luck Mr. Watkins!

  7. Chester High is built like the Starship Enterprise.

  8. stefan the slave roots dumb blog