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Important Updates for the Chester Union Free School District


May 20, 2021

Dear Parents / Guardians:

For what seems like the first time in a long time, I am happy to write to you to share some good news!  As you know, the Chester community approved our District’s proposed 2020-2021 budget proposal this past Tuesday.  Included in that budget were proposals for increased staffing and programs to:

  • Address Covid related academic and social, emotional, and mental health needs.


  • Advance the development of a K-12 STEM program, including the completion of the Makerspace at Chester Elementary School, new construction of a Makerspace at Chester Academy and the development of high school level STEM classes and a K–12 STEM curriculum.


  • Explore development of a Pre-K program for our school district for the 2021-2022 school year.


  • Expand our highly successful Chromebook program for all students in grades K – 12.


  • Provide ongoing and robust support for our computer network including an emphasis on cybersecurity, data privacy, and instructional technology.

The 2021 – 2022 Budget includes a number of new or restored teacher and support staff positions to accomplish these goals.   Altogether, our budget for next year provides a unique opportunity for our district to take significant strides forward in the development of its programs.  

In order to respond to the challenges presented with this opportunity, last night the Chester Board of Education approved two resolutions to provide administrative support for these changes starting on July 1st.  The Board created the new position of Director of Technology and Data Management and moved Mr. Ed Spence into that new and expanded role.  Mr. Spence has been instrumental in positioning our district as a leader in the area of computer technology, including establishing our highly successful Chrome Book program, and we look forward to his leadership in meeting new and ever expanding computer technology needs. 

The Board also created the new position of Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction and moved Ms. Cathy O’Hara into that new role.  Ms. O’Hara has been principal of Chester Elementary School for the past two years, and prior to her time as principal she was the Chester School District’s STEM Coordinator and was responsible for developing the District’s STEM programs at both Chester Elementary School and Chester Academy.  Ms. O’Hara’s experiences as an engineer, classroom teacher, STEM Coordinator, and school principal have provided her with a broad base of experiences and leadership roles that make her uniquely qualified for this important new position in our school district. 

Ms. O’Hara’s move into her new role in the district will create a vacancy for the Chester Elementary School Principal position.  We are beginning the search process for that important position immediately and hope to have that process completed before the end of the school year.  Ms. O’Hara will be leading that search process and will be assembling an interview committee in the coming days so that members of our school community can be involved in the selection of our new principal.   Once a new principal is selected Ms. O’Hara will assist the new principal as he/she transitions into their new role. 

In closing, you may remember that what gave us the strength to move forward during some of the darkest days of the Covid Pandemic was a hope that things would get better and that we would become stronger because of our experiences.  The outlook for our recovery from the pandemic is improving every day and the new programs that we will be implementing next year will make our district much stronger next year and for years to come! 

Thank you for your ongoing support of our schools and district!


Denis M. Petrilak

Superintendent of Schools