Jun 16, 2022 - News

Tony Watlington takes over as Philadelphia School District superintendent

Tony B. Watlington

Tony B. Watlington. Photo courtesy of the School District of Philadelphia

Tony B. Watlington officially took the helm of the School District of Philadelphia on Thursday.

Driving the news: The new superintendent, who was sworn in at district headquarters Thursday morning, also launched a listening tour to build trust, learn about the city and its schools, and listen to recommendations for improving the district.

Why it matters: Watlington will oversee a school district — the eighth largest in the U.S. — beset with challenges, including:

The backdrop: Watlington takes over for William Hite, whose 10-year tenure includes shepherding the district back to city control after having been under the state's control for nearly two decades.

  • Watlington, a North Carolina native and former history teacher, previously served as superintendent of Rowan-Salisbury School District in North Carolina.

Details: Watlington's "listening and learning" tour, part of his plan for his first 100 days, includes at least 80 community meetings and will be followed by a report with findings and recommendations, the new superintendent said. A five-year strategic plan will come later this year.

  • Transparency is a "fundamental part of our leadership and it will be that way from the very start," Watlington said after his swearing-in ceremony Thursday.

What they're saying: Philly's success depends on the "quality of our schools and the opportunities that we can offer our children and our families," Mayor Jim Kenney said.

  • "The only way out of poverty, out of despair, out of crisis is having a good education," Kenney said.

Go deeper: Read Watlington's 100-day plan and sign up for the superintendent's listening sessions on the district's website.


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