It’s like a great band breaking up in the world of Indiana education.
Several members of the administrative team that turned around a flagging high school in Marion — a town with a high unemployment rate — are leaving the district. From Sarah Janssen at the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:
When Ken Folks was hired as chief academic officer at Marion Community Schools, the district’s high school was facing the possibility of state takeover because of low performance.
Three years later, the school is off probation and last year was just shy of earning a B grade under the state’s A-to-F grading accountability system.
Now Folks comes to lead East Allen County Schools, a diverse district that has been without a leader for more than two months and has had to adjust to a redesign plan that left some communities without funding for needed building upgrades.
We profiled the effort to turn around Marion High School back in 2011. At the time, state education officials cited it as evidence proactive interventions in schools with chronically-low test scores could make a difference.
Also leaving Marion this year: The district’s superintendent, longtime northeast Indiana educator Steve Edwards, who has retired. A reader letter to the Chronicle-Tribune gives you a sense of his reputation:
How big is a man that casts a large shadow over a town like Marion? How large are the shoes he wears that someone must fill? I have told this man many times that “He is like a Rock Star.” That man is Marion Community Schools leader, Mr. Steve Edwards. This man has cometh and this man has leadth, and this community has been blessed to have him.
Steve came and saved Marion and its children. He came knowing he had a big job ahead of him. Full speed ahead he went and with that great effort saved this system. He rolled up his sleeves and went to work. For that he will always be blessed and remembered. Marion can never pay him enough for what he did for our children.
The list of departures goes on — Marion High School’s assistant principal, the district’s curriculum director.
As we wrote at the time, most stakeholders in Marion High School’s turnaround say duplicating the success of the state’s intervention would require replicating an extraordinary confluence of circumstances — including the arrival of Edwards, who was intent on improving relations with the teachers union.
At least one replacement is already in place: the Marion School Board has picked Brad Lindsay, currently the superintendent in Mooresville, to be the district’s next superintendent, the Chronicle-Tribune reports.