By LorettaRodgers

The Chester Fund for Education announced last week that this school year (2011-2012) will be the last of its affiliation with the Chester-Upland School of the
Arts (CUSA). The foundation will instead apply to open its own charter school in the district for the 2012-2013 school year, which includes the City of
Chester, Chester Township and Upland Borough.

Currently, The Chester Fund (TCF) supplies 25 percent of the budget necessary to run CUSA which translates into approximately $2.5 million- $3 million annually.

“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 to keep the best teachers,” said TCF and CUSA founder Dr. John Alston.

“The only way to accomplish this is to apply for a charter.” CUSA opened its doors in the fall of 2008 with 200 students. The brainchild of Alston, a professor of music at Swarthmore College, the school is located at the site of the former Parry building on 9th St. and stresses the importance of the arts, academic courses and serves students in kindergarten to fifth grade.

According to a press release issued by TCF, the main reason for its separation from the district is due to the furloughing of all but two of CUSA’s classroom teachers because of teacher-seniority rules.

Like many other districts in the state, the Chester-Upland district was hit hard by reductions in its budget due to the state’s cut in education funding. TCF believes its educational programs have been “compromised” as a result.

“The inability to protect staff and programming was the key reason TCF decided to terminate the partnership, effective at the end of the current school year and apply to open a charter school,” reads the release.

CUSD Acting Superintendent Dr. Joyce Wells is adamant about…

For the entire story pick up volume 4, issue 14 of the Chester Spirit.

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