A case over whether or not families should pay busing fees in Franklin Township has made its way all the way to the state Supreme Court.
The Indiana Supreme Court began hearing arguments Monday in the case against Franklin Township schools’ decision to eliminate busing services and replace it with a private service, which parents had to pay for.
As we’ve reported, parents sued, it went through the court system, and is now in front of the five judge panel at the state Supreme Court.
A case over whether or not families should pay busing fees in Franklin Township has made its way to the state Supreme Court.
The Franklin Township school system eliminated its busing service three years ago, saying property tax caps had squeezed the school corporation’s finances. The system hired a private firm to run its buses and the firm required parents to pay a fee.
Attorney Ian Thompson, representing the parent, says the Indiana Constitution mandates that the state must provide a uniform school system available for all, and that depriving children of a way to get to school violates that mandate.
“Transportation has become and has evolved into a fundamental part of a free and public education,” Thompson says.
But attorney Sam Laurin, arguing on behalf of the school corporation, says the legislature gets to decide what public school systems must include.
“In this case, the legislature – through clear statutory language at the time that this dispute arose – made it clear that school corporations may, but are not required to bus all students,” Laurin says.
The Supreme Court justices did not announce a timetable for their ruling.
Breakfast in the Classroom is a separate service from the federal free/reduced meal program. As their name suggests, students eat the meal together in their classroom, while the teacher takes attendance, collects homework or completes other morning tasks.
The program does not stay in districts long-term, but provides breakfast for one school year in a way to encourage students who qualify to get breakfast through the free/reduced meal program to do so.
The Walmart Foundation funds the program, and a variety of education organizations work with the organization. They include Food Research and Action Center, the National Association of Elementary School Principals Foundation, the National Education Association Health Information Network, and the School Nutrition Foundation. Continue Reading →
The pre-k pilot program will launch in four counties in January, a quick turnaround since counties found out about their selection in July.
After becoming law back in March, the state’s pre-k pilot, On My Way Pre-K, will soon become a reality. Four of the five counties are poised to launch in January, and applications for providers and families wanting to participate are now available.
The five counties selected to participate in the program weren’t announced until the end of July, leaving organizers in those counties five months to fundraise, select eligible providers and work on recruiting eligible children.
In the counties’ original applications, they outlined their short-term capacity for preschool students: how many spots are available, how many potential providers, possible sources of fundraising, etc. So not to say they started the process from scratch back in July, but five months before launch means things have moved quickly in many places. Continue Reading →
Applications for the pre-k pilot program are available to families.
Applications for On My Way Pre-K, the state’s pre-k pilot program, are now available for low-income families wishing to enroll their children.
The applications are only available to families in Allen, Lake, Marion and Vanderburgh counties, where the program will launch in January. Applications for Jackson County families will be available later.
The application asks for basic information about the family including proof of address, number of family members, and proof of income. To be eligible for the program, families must earn an income falling below 127 percent of the poverty line – around 30,000 dollars a year for a family of four.
Children must turn four by the time they enroll in pre-k classes in August. If there are more applicants than spots available at participating preschool programs, applicants will be selected through a lottery.
Brittany McKee helps her sons Gage and Jayce Meza complete the craft as part of the parent engagement night at Edgewood Primary School in Ellettsville.
Indiana is in the midst of a transition year when it comes to education: new academic standards, an ISTEP+ test that is not yet written and a new pre-k pilot program launching in four counties in January. All of these changes create challenges for kids ages three to 18 – but despite the differences of each area, there is one thing everyone says will help solve the issues at hand: family engagement.
Family Engagement In Action
On a recent weeknight at Edgewood Primary School in Ellettsville, parents and grandparents stream into the lunchroom with their kindergarten through second grade children. Tonight’s event is a literacy-based craft night, and students are signing up for which teacher they want to read them a book. Teachers will read to the children, showcasing techniques they use in the classroom parents can replicate at home.
Jill Ferguson oversees family engagement for Richland-Bean Blossom schools and gives instructions to families before they scatter to different classrooms for the reading activities.
As 2014 comes to a close, school leaders and teachers have a lot to think about as they move into the second semester of the school year – how can we keep moving forward? What can we improve?
Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana
Washington High School in Indianapolis is one of the failing schools members of the Committee on School Turnaround are trying to help.
In particular, the nine state schools considered ‘failing’ will be looking to take any positive steps that they can. And the State Board of Education‘s Committee on School Turnaround is looking for ways to help.
The panel met Monday for the final time this fall to review state intervention tactics at those nine schools and discuss potential changes. They’ll present their recommendations to the full state board at its Dec. 3 meeting.
To date, the state has established nine turnaround academies under one of three models:
Lead Partner: An external partner contracted by the state works with the school corporation in a limited capacity to operate certain aspects of the school.
Turnaround School Operator (TSO): An external partner contracted by the state operates the school independently, similar to a charter school. The school corporation continues to provide some operational services.
Transformation Zone: The school corporation develops its own turnaround plan, operating under varying degrees of state oversight. The school corporation can, but is not required to, work with an external partner contracted by the state as a turnaround operator.
Another day, another discussion of power among state education leaders.
Rachel Morello / StateImpact Indiana
State Superintendent Glenda Ritz speaks to reporters outside the State Board of Education meeting in July, when she engaged with board members about her duties as board chair.
Leadership of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce says one of the group’s top legislative priorities for the 2015 session is pushing to make the position of State Superintendent of Public Instruction appointed beginning in 2016.
Chamber president Kevin Brinegar says he believes the superintendent, the head of the Department of Education, should be appointed similar to the heads of all other state agencies– a consistent position of the Chamber.
“This will be my 34th session, and for most of that time we’ve had the superintendent and the governor not on the same page with respect to major issues,” Brinegar says. “Often that’s because they’ve been of a different party, and in some cases they’ve even been of the same party but the governor didn’t appoint that person. We need consistency and one agenda for education that voters can assess and determine whether they like it or they don’t like it in the next election.”
Brinegar says the Chamber plans to speak up “louder this session than ever before” with respect to proposed legislation in favor of appointing the position. If such legislation is unable to pass, he says the Chamber advocates that members of the state board be allowed to select the chair of that body.
The state Constitution requires there be a State Superintendent, but leaves the method of selection up to legislators. Since it’s written into state law, reformers would need to push for an amendment to make the position appointed by the governor.
With winter weather on its way, school officials in Indiana are surely preparing for whatever Mother Nature has to throw their way (remember last year?)
Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana
Rather than make up snow days after the fact, the IDOE offers districs the option to provide virtual instruction while students are home from school.
One district sounds like they’ve got it all figured out. In the event of a snow day or other weather-related closing, students in the Twin Lakes School Corporation in Monticello will be able to complete their classwork online.
School officials announced on the district’s Facebook page earlier this week that the Indiana Department of Education approved its application to hold “eLearning Days” to replace traditional snow make-up days:
In the event of a cancellation, students will receive eLearning materials and will access their learning resources through the school’s website,tlschools.com, and through TLCampus, tlcampus.com. Teachers and technology staff will be available throughout eLearning days to assist students with questions.
In order to accommodate anyone experiencing technical difficulties during an eLearning day, classwork will be due two days after classes resume on the normal schedule.
School closings occurring after December 8 may be used as eLearning days.
The Department of Education implemented this virtual option during the polar vortex of the 2013-14 school year, and about 40 schools took advantage. According to the IDOE website, the option can be used in two ways: on a make-up day (to provide for students that might have difficulty learning outside of the building, i.e. internet access or special need accommodations), or on an inclement weather day.
Districts may only exercise the latter if special considerations for all students can be addressed and met away from the building.
One in five females on Indiana's college campuses is raped or sexually assaulted by the time she graduates, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Higher Education Commissioner Teresa Lubbers pointed out that the group spends a lot of time talking about academic quality at the state’s public and private universities, and that discussion has expanded to include quality of life for students.
“We think this [needs] an all-hands-on-deck approach, and as the coordinating body for higher education in the state, the commission has an obligation to do that,” Lubbers says.
A report by Southern Indiana’s News and Tribune pinpoints why the Commission decided to call the meeting:
Prompting the commission’s interest are increasing numbers of sexual assaults reported on the state’s campuses. That includes IU-Bloomington, which has been under review by the U.S. Department of Education for possible violations of federal law in how it handles sexual violence.
Adding impetus, Indiana University-Bloomington police charged three men in connection with an off-campus attack last Sunday.