For Immediate Release from via Dr. John Alston in regards to CUSA
Contact: Maurice Eldridge 610-328-8312
NEW ARTS CHARTER SCHOOL PROPOSED FOR CITY OF CHESTER
Chester, PA (September 1, 2011) The Chester Fund for Education and the Arts, a private foundation also known as The Chester Fund, announced today that it plans to apply to open a charter school in the Chester Upland School District, which includes the City of Chester, Chester Township and Upland Borough.
In 2008, The Chester Fund (TCF) formed a partnership with the Chester School district to create the Chester Upland School of the Arts (CUSA), with TCF providing private funds for arts and technology programming as well as teaching assistants in every grade and an extended-day program for the older children. This year CUSA will serve 275 Chester children in Kindergarten through 5th grade. The proposed charter school would ultimately serve students in Kindergarten through 12th grade, building on the successes of CUSA.
This spring, CUSA achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment Test (PSSA) for the second year in a row. Thanks to superlative teachers, the school’s 4th graders made a 20% gain in reading proficiency and 15% gain in math, improving on their results as 3rd graders last year.
Unfortunately, over the summer CUSA was ravaged by massive reductions in the school district budget as a result of the state government’s cuts in education funding. In the wake of these events, CUSA’s educational programs have been compromised and all but two of the classroom teachers have been laid off due to teacher-union seniority rules. This inability to protect staff and programming was the key reason TCF decided to terminate the partnership, effective the end of the current school year (June 2012), and apply to open a charter school.
“We deeply appreciate the partnership we’ve had with the district over the last three years, but also realize that to continue educating Chester children, we have to be able to design our own programs and hire and keep the best teachers,” said TCF and CUSA founder Dr. John Alston. “The only way to accomplish this is to apply for a charter.” “The children’s education must come first,” added Maurice Eldridge, TCF Board Chair. “We are saddened by what has happened, but we are excited about our future charter school.”
The new charter school, to be called the Chester Charter School for the Arts, will open in September 2012 pending approval of the charter application. The school will welcome students in grades K-6, and any child in the district will be eligible to attend.
The Chester Fund for Education and the Arts, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization founded by Swarthmore College music professor John Alston, is dedicated to providing Chester’s
disadvantaged children with a first-rate, arts-enriched education that will prepare them for college
and success in life. Dr. Alston is also the Founder and Director of the acclaimed 120-voice
Chester Children’s Chorus. Maurice Eldridge, Vice President of College and Community
Relations at Swarthmore College, chairs The Chester Fund Board of Directors.