Bennett Wants Shorter Window Of Failure For School Takeover

Bennett wants the failure window shrunk from six years to four.

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Photo: Ben Skirvin/WFIU

Tony Bennett says he wants schools to have to make progress at least every four years to avoid state takeover.

State school superintendent Tony Bennett expects to ask legislators next year to toughen the law allowing the state to take over schools with consistently low test scores. This summer, the state took over Gary Roosevelt High School and five Indianapolis schools. But next year, only one school, in Indianapolis, is in danger of takeover.

Bennett complains a school has to show improvement just one year out of every six to reset the clock. He wants legislators to cut the probation window to four years, while authorizing the state to offer assistance earlier. Bennett said some of the 18 districts in danger of takeover this year reached out to the state for help, but that wasn‘t the only way to escape state takeover.

“Other districts took a more negative approach, and basically said, ‘do we want the state walking in here and taking over our schools? If the answer to that is no, we need to take drastic steps,’” Bennett said. “So we afforded districts around the state the opportunity to be friends or adversaries, whatever helped them the most.”

Bennett said he will await an estimate of how much the change would cost before officially placing it on his legislative agenda for next year.

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