Superintendent Watlington's lessons learned from 100 days of listening
Superintendent Tony Watlington Jr. is shaking up the Philadelphia school district's top leadership and realigning priorities months into his new role.
Why it matters: Watlington, a native of North Carolina, took over the district this summer as it grapples with low academic achievement, gun violence, aging facilities and falling enrollment.
- His first act was to set off on a tour to listen and learn about schools' needs from students, staff, business leaders and community members.
Driving the news: Watlington, who marked his 110th day in office during a news conference on Tuesday, released the findings from his tour and set up a new leadership team.
- They'll focus on improving academic achievement, facilities, communications and partnerships, which Watlington said were the top issues that arose during his listening tour.
The big picture: The superintendent's moves come a week after a shooting outside Roxborough High School killed a football player and left four other teenagers injured after a scrimmage.
- Watlington said gun violence and pandemic losses are having a devastating impact on the city.
- "Many of our children have spoken very clearly that they are not doing well," he said. "Some are afraid to go out in the neighborhood to play; some are afraid on their way to and from school."
Zoom in: Staffing, school climate and public safety will be the district’s highest priorities, Watlington said.
- Other top issues that emerged during Watlington's listening tour included a lack of consistency and transparency around district communications and poor customer service.
Details: Watlington's new leadership structure is made up of five new members, all of whom have ties to the city.
- Two of the positions are newly created deputy superintendent posts, which will be filled by Shavon Savage and Uri Monson, overseeing academic services and operations respectively.
- Savage formerly served as a Philly principal and deputy chief of the district’s office of specialized services, while Monson was previously the district's chief financial officer.
What they're saying: With too many students not graduating with the skills they need to succeed, Watlington said the district must adjust its strategies.
- "We've got significant improvement to make if we're going to prepare students for life-changing opportunities and if we're going to facilitate life-changing outcomes," he said.
What's next: The superintendent's transition team will issue a report on district-wide recommendations on Oct. 20.
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