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.”

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