By Natasha Brown


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s almost time for kids in Philadelphia to head back to school. Eyewitness News talked to superintendent Dr. William Hite about what this school year will bring for students.

On the morning of Sept. 3, bells will be ringing all around the city, welcoming the start of a new school year.

“Looking forward to receiving 203,000 children in public schools back to school on Tuesday, Sept. 3rd,” Hite said. “We are continuously focused on talent and making sure we have the best people working for us, making sure we retain our best people.”

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Hite touts a talented and diverse pool of 9,800 teachers in the coming year, with hundreds filling new positions in the form of teacher and guidance counselors.

“Diversity is extremely important —  one of the most diverse groups of individuals that are coming in to the School District of Philadelphia, about 24% of our new hires are individuals of color,” Hite said. “One thing that’s new is  our focus on the social and emotional aspects associated with our young people that we serve and with our educators.”

In addition to adding cameras throughout the school buildings, Hite also touched on ways the district is shoring up security as it continues to become a growing problem in schools throughout the country.

“We monitor who comes into facilities. You have to identify yourself before you can gain entry into many of our facilities, you have to walk through a magnetometer,” Hite said.

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After seven years at the helm of the Philadelphia School District, Hite has implemented many changes. He’s particularly proud of the district’s accomplishments, with some standing out more than most.

“We’ve cut in half the number of schools in the lowest performing categories, we’ve doubled the number of schools that are in the highest-performing categories” Hite said. “I’m proud of the fact that we have more children graduating from school.”

Some charter schools in the city will be starting next week a little earlier than the public schools. School officials are looking forward to a productive year of shaping the minds of Philadelphia school children.