Come take a journey with me as I don my dystopian virtual reality glasses to create a solution intended to rescue a failing school district, save jobs, and reform and rehabilitate troubled youth. Welcome to ‘The Twilight Zone’ (minus Jordan Peele).
The City of Chester and the Township of Thornbury have agreed to swap assets. The State Correctional Institution in Chester will be moving to Glen Mills and the Glen Mills Reform School is coming to Chester providing substantial benefits for both municipalities.
Thornbury Township is already home to the privately run county prison. For years, the local community has been comfortable hosting correctional facilities and there isn’t any anticipation of community resistance to this move. By moving the State Correctional Institution in the township, it provides the small community with nearly 1800 new residents they can claim on their census and in their voting district which will earn them more state and federal resources to spread throughout the township.
There is plenty of open space to build the State Correctional Institution on the existing county prison property, so there’s no issue with using valuable private property to host the new prison. In fact, the existing property of Glen Mills Reform School will convert into a new residential development with exquisite amenities for property owners like lifetime memberships to the golf course and 24×7 access to the sports facilities on the school property including weight room, gymnasium, swimming pool, indoor & outdoor track, football, baseball and soccer fields, and whatever else they want to use.
The Chester-Upland School District will be the biggest benefactor of having the Glen Mill Reform School move to Chester. A new program will be developed between the reform school and the school district to offer criminal justice education programs to prepare Chester students for careers in law enforcement, criminal justice, law, prison management, and other associated fields of study.
Considering the very low number of local residents applying for jobs on the police force and of those represented in county government positions, this partnership with Glen Mills Reform School is expected to create more jobs for Chester students in criminal justice related fields than the STEM High School is creating scientist, technologist, engineers, or mathematicians.
We all know there are some students in the Chester School District who have been sent to Glen Mills in the past and there are many Chester students who are probably more hardened than the ones being served by Glen Mills. Dealing with troubled youth in an educational setting is what the Chester Upland School District is faced with every day. With the combined resources afforded Glen Mills and their staff teaming up with Chester-Upland along with adequate funding by combining the two institutions, I expect to see a revolutionary approach to driving excellence in this new setting designed to educate, reform, and rehabilitate.
The new reform school will use the STEM high school (Showalter) for instruction as the current students will move into the half empty Chester High School on 9th and Barclay. The money that was budgeted for Glen Mills Reform School will now be sent to Chester to replicate the facilities they had in Thornbury Township, including a swimming pool and indoor track. The school district and the reform school will consolidate use of other existing recreation facilities like the football field, outdoor track and baseball field. We may as well throw in a tennis court.
Before I take off my dystopian virtual reality glasses, tell me why this won’t work.