Dr. Tony Watlington Sr., Philadelphia’s new school superintendent, discusses goals, challenges

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — In his first sit-down interview with Action News, the new Philadelphia School District Superintendent announced that he was building on the work of former Superintendent Dr. William Hite while laying the foundations for his own plan.

dr Tony Watlington Sr. was from the Rowan-Salisbury School District in North Carolina, which has approximately 20,000 students. The Philadelphia School District has approximately 114,000 students.

“The district has treated me very well,” Watlington said of his time in the city since he was hired in April. “I love the city.”

But anyone in Philadelphia can tell you that niceties only last so long

“People in Philadelphia will tell you what they think,” Watlington said.

The Philadelphians Watlington met had a lot to say. These include, but are not limited to, parents, residents, community leaders, and faith leaders. As the new superintendent, Watlington has decided to start listening.

“What I hear from a lot of people is they think the city can do better,” he said. “They want to find out how to bring us together.”

So far, Watlington has hosted 65 listening tours and has 15 more to come. Information from the sessions will help create a strategic plan that includes key goals for academic growth.

“We absolutely have the potential to become the fastest growing urban school district in the country,” Watlington said.

But this growth cannot take place without sufficient staff.

“We’re 97.4% staffed with teachers and careers advisers,” Watlington said, adding that the district won’t reach 100 percent staffing by the first day of school.

But he says every classroom will be manned by a caring, qualified adult. The goal of hiring more teachers is already clear.

“Do a better job of recruiting, onboarding, developing and retaining great teachers… and black male teachers in particular,” he said.

Staffing of domestic workers and bus drivers is also an issue for workers voting to strike this weekend.

“I am very optimistic that we will find an appropriate solution and we will continue to work on this area,” Watlington said.

“Would that include the raises?” asked Action News reporter TaRhonda Thomas.

“We are absolutely committed to ensuring that all of our employees earn a living wage,” Watlington said.

Watlington says he knows firsthand the concerns of striking janitors and bus drivers.

“I was a janitor and a bus driver,” he said. “I rode bus number 229.”

But it’s not just about getting kids to school safely. It’s about protecting them in an increasingly violent city.

“I met with Commissioner Outlaw this summer,” Watlington said. “We have placed more officers in certain school communities when students come into school and when they leave school. We also work with community organizations to provide additional safety volunteers and some are paid in specific school communities.”

Watlington has a lot going on in his five-year deal. Maybe that’s why he’s already planning beyond that.

“I would like to commemorate the 10-year tenure of Dr. surpass Bill Height in this district,” he said. “You heard it here first!”

Watlington says he’s focused on building relationships and building community. In mid to late October he will be sharing the results of all these listening events and meetings. The district will use it to launch an “aggressive strategic planning process,” Watlington says.

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https://6abc.com/dr-tony-watlington-sr-philadelphia-school-district-philly-schools-new-superintendent/12158547/ Dr. Tony Watlington Sr., Philadelphia’s new school superintendent, discusses goals, challenges

Alley Einstein

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