Indiana’s Charter School Board has begun its third application cycle for new charter schools with a series of public meetings around the state. Attendance at the meetings has varied, with anywhere from 15 people to more than 200 showing up to voice their opinions about opening new charter schools in their communities.
No one other than the charter school representatives showed up to Thursday’s hearing in Indianapolis but charter board members say that’s the first time that’s happened.
Board executive director Claire Fiddian-Green says the public hearing is one portion of a lengthy application process.
“We spend a lot of time ourselves as a staff reviewing and scoring the applications and we also use third-party evaluators, so we do really in-depth analysis of the merits of the application,” Fiddian-Green says. “We also conduct capacity interviews with the applicant team.”
Fiddian-Green says opinions have varied at the hearings. Board member and Edgewood High School teacher Larry DeMoss attended a meeting in Scottsburg, a small town whose people were divided over a potential charter school. DeMoss voted against a Scottsburg charter school’s application, based in part on the public hearing.
“I hate to think of some of the friendships that were probably ended that evening that will never be repaired. That one was a tough one,” DeMoss says.
Other hearings this cycle include Evansville, Gary and Anderson.