Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Its Future Once In Limbo, Gary Charter Will Remain Open After Finding A New Sponsor

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Students at Gary's Charter School of the Dunes sit on stage during an after-school academic showcase in February.

When Ball State University officials announced in January they would pull their backing from Charter School of the Dunes, leaders of the school wondered if they’d ever see the inside of their still-under-construction $13 million campus on Gary’s east side.

But The Times of Northwest Indiana reports the school will remain open after Calumet College officials agreed to sponsor the school:

“This partnership will revolutionize the way schools partner with their authorizer,” said Danielle Sleight, Charter School of the Dunes board president.

Charter School of the Dunes approached Calumet College to become its sponsor, said Daniel Lowery, president of the Hammond school.

Under a change in state law, both private and public accredited four-year institutions can sponsor a charter school, he said. However, Lowery said Charter School of the Dunes is a specific case, and the college is not seeking to sponsor other schools.

“It’s not something we are looking to do with a lot of institutions,” Lowery said. “We were approached by Charter School of the Dunes, and it’s a particular case and it’s a good mission fit. We’re impressed with what they’ve accomplished to this point and think they have terrific potential.”

Lowery said the college will provide more hands-on assistance to the school than other charter school sponsors traditionally might, to help address low test scores. A number of his faculty members have worked at charter schools, including the liaison the college has appointed to work directly with Charter School of the Dunes.

In February, we profiled Charter School of the Dunes and another Ball State-sponsored charter school in Fort Wayne facing closure — and we heard from university officials who raised serious questions about the seven schools’ academic quality.

“These schools said to us in their [initial charter] proposal, ‘We’re going to meet these goals and objectives.’ If they’re not meeting those standards that they set out, then that’s reason for non-renewal. It’s in the best interests of the student,” said Bob Marra, head of Ball State’s Office of Charter Schools, in an interview with StateImpact in February.


  • Jami Beckham

    As the Founder of Options in Education of NWI & NWI Parents for Quality Education, I couldn’t be more thrilled for the families of Charter School of the Dunes! I commend Calumet College for supporting a parents right to determine where their children attend school and for taking a hands-on approach to turning this school around.

    • Eileen Doherty

      Should charter schools be given the option or ability to turn themselves around? Weren’t charters created under the premise that they would deliver high quality education? So are we moving away from holding charter schools accountable for the quality of education that they provide? Or maybe the way in which we evaluate schools is highly flawed? Charter schools shouldn’t be allowed to shop around for different authorizers.

      Many charter schools can put a great sounding plan on paper. Very few can actually implement those ideas effectively or quickly.

  • Charter School Teacher

    @ Eileen – this particular charter school drank the same “kool-aid” as all public schools – “yes, we’ll get those scores up”… when the reality is, the majority of kids come from poverty, there’s high transience, and severe problems with attendance… I’d say that the way in which we evaluate schools is HIGHLY flawed… when a school such as “New Trier” in Northern Illinois can be considered a failing school because it didn’t meet AYP (how can one improve if you’re already at the top?), then we have a SERIOUS problem with the way schools are evaluated. The data’s been dissected… when the kids are there for 4 years, the achievement gap is closed… it’s a VERY GOOD SCHOOL!… but try getting anyone to listen…

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