PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia School District Superintendent Dr. Tony Watlington talked about Roxborough Tuesday as he spoke about what he learned on his Listening and Learning tour across the school district. The superintendent announced the tour when he started the job which he says will help him to better understand the needs of the district.
There are three phases in the superintendent’s transition process.
Currently, we are on phase two which includes the release of this comprehensive view of the school system.
Watlington took over as chief of Philadelphia’s Schools, replacing William R. Hite Jr. who was superintendent for a decade.
His 100-day plan, the Listening and Learning tour, focuses on five priority areas:
Student and staff well being
Developing trust with the city
Assessing teaching and learning
Re-examining district structure / organizational leadership
Examining operations and finances within the district
CBS3 spoke with him when he was announcing his need to do the tour.
“I think it is important to focus on getting to know Philadelphia. Trust begins when I begin to listen, and I have to listen to understand, to understand this community, to understand what we think is working really well and to understand what we think are areas that need improvement in the school district,” the Philadelphia School District Superintendent said.
Dr. Watlington received input from approximately 2,700 Philadelphians – their main concern is safety.
CBS3 also spoke with some parents and asked them what they would like to see addressed.
“What is happening in the schools today is terrible. It don’t make no sense. How do these kids get to walk around with guns like that? Jumping out of cars and shooting innocent kids. It don’t make no sense. It really don’t,” a concerned mother said.
During a press conference at school district headquarters, Dr. Watlington addressed that.
He acknowledged concerns following the deadly shooting outside of Roxborough high school, citing safety as his number one priority.
“I would say to give us a chance,” he said. “I want to encourage our parents to believe in us. I recognize there is a crisis of confidence across the city”
Those actions include safety zones implemented around 40 district and charter schools, added supervision for students traveling to and from school as well as more mental health providers.
“What I’ve learned in phase one of my entry plan, in this Listening and Learning tour, is that the students of the School District of Philadelphia are anything but ordinary. They absolutely deserve an extraordinary school district,” Dr. Watlington said.
In addition to safety, the meeting highlighted four other priorities for the district to tackle:
Improved communication and engagement -both within the district and with the public
Improved customer service
All things, he said, the previous administration started.
That press conference took place at the Philadelphia School District headquarters at 10 a.m. Tuesday.