Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

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Claire McInerny

Claire McInerny is a reporter/producer for WFIU/WTIU news. She comes to WFIU/WTIU from KCUR in Kansas City. She graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Kansas where she discovered her passion for public media and the stories it tells. You can follow her on Twitter @ClaireMcInerny.

  • Email: clmciner@indiana.edu

Gary Legislators: Reduce And Change The School Board To Help Kids

The Gary Community Schools Corporation is shrinking because of financial problems leading to school closures.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

The Gary Community Schools Corporation is shrinking because of financial problems leading to school closures.

State representatives Charlie Brown D-Gary, Vernon Smith D-Gary and Senator Earline Rogers D-Gary are trying to gain support for legislation that would reduce the Gary School Board from seven elected members who represent districts of the city to five at-large members, three elected and two appointed by the mayor.

Brown says the current system of electing the school board is no longer working because the district is shrinking, schools are closing and consolidating, enrollment is declining and a number of financial problems are plaguing the district. He says past school boards with district representatives struggled to make decisions on closures, because everyone wanted to protect the schools in their districts.  Continue Reading

Gary Schools Owe $2.6 Million To Keep Bus Services Running

The Gary Community School Corporation owes its busing company more than $2 million to keep services running. The company gave the school district until Nov. 10 to provide payment.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

The Gary Community School Corporation owes its busing company more than $2 million to keep services running. The company gave the school district until Nov. 10 to provide payment.

Bus service for Gary students could be discontinued in November if the district doesn’t pay its transportation company $2.6 million for services they’ve already delivered.

The Illinois Central Bus Company, the bus company that provides transportation for Gary Schools, sent a letter to Gary Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt saying the district has until Nov. 10 to provide payment or evidence of a payment plan if they want bus service to continue.

In the letter, the company explains its reasoning for the deadline:

The significant arrears and lack of clarity with respect to your ability to pay for already-delivered services has put ICSB in an untenable position. As a result, our company cannot continue to provide services without payment or concrete evidence of payments to come. At a rate of $150,000 per week, each month that passes adds $600,000 to the amount in arrears. This situation jeopardizes the viability of our company and the jobs of 100 drivers and employees.

Continue Reading

Auditor Candidate And Ritz Publically Blast CECI This Week

Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, left, and Gov. Mike Pence have been at odds since the creation of CECI.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, left, and Gov. Mike Pence have been at odds since the creation of CECI.

The closer we get to Nov. 4, the more aggressive the Democrats are getting against the Pence administration, and, this week especially, his Center for Education & Career Innovation.

At a campaign event in Allen County Wednesday, State Auditor candidate Mike Claytor claimed CECI’s existence costs taxpayers $14 million and an even larger claim about CECI’s finances. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette’s Jamie Duffy and Niki Kelly have more from Claytor’s event:

“They’re the only agency that doesn’t have to revert,” Claytor said. “It’s a shell game. The people (who are working for the CECI) are not being paid from the agency they are working,” adding that the costs of those 21 people amount to $14 million.

[...]

CECI itself doesn’t have a line item in the current state budget because it didn’t exist when the budget was passed. But the agencies under CECI did revert money.

The State Board of Education returned $1.7 million, and the Indiana Works Council sent back nearly $150,000. The agencies CECI oversees reverted $2.18 million – or 21 percent of their appropriation.

Gov. Pence created CECI by executive order in 2013, and, since then, state superintendent Glenda Ritz and the organization have been at odds, because Ritz sees the creation of the agency as an abuse of power by Pence.  Continue Reading

Pre-K Pilot To Launch In Four Of Five Counties In January

Representatives of the five counties chosen to participate in the pre-k pilot program met in Indianapolis yesterday to share ideas about implementing the program.

Barnaby Wasson (flickr)

Representatives of the five counties chosen to participate in the pre-k pilot program met in Indianapolis yesterday to share ideas about implementing the program.

Governor Pence and representatives of the five counties selected to participate in the state’s pre-k pilot program met yesterday to discuss implementation of the program. At the meeting, Pence announced  four of the five counties (Allen, Lake, Marion and Vanderburgh) are ready to start implementing the program Jan. 1 but Jackson County will wait until July to issue vouchers to families.

Dan Hodge, Executive Director of the Jackson County Education Coalition, says in Jackson’s County’s original statement of readiness they said they would not be ready to implement the program by January.

“What will be our biggest challenge may be to have enough capacity to reach the children that we want to reach,” Hodge said. “Because one will be trying to reach the children, we may have to go out and shake the bushes a little because we are a rural community.” Continue Reading

When It Comes To Free Textbooks, Indiana Is The Exception

Indiana is one of eight states to charge parents for textbooks.

timuiuc (flickr)

Indiana is one of eight states to charge parents for textbooks.

At the beginning of each school year, families in Indiana’s public schools are hit with bills that include activity fees, class fees and the largest line item- textbook fees. Textbook rental fees cost parents on average about $100 per child.

Frustrating to most parents is the knowledge that Indiana is one of only eight states that charge for textbooks.

That is why state superintendent Glenda Ritz announced earlier this month that she wants to eliminate this financial burden for families.

The Indiana Department of Education’s proposed budget for the next two years asks for $70 million more to put toward paying for textbooks for every Indiana student.

The burden of textbooks on families

Jackie Chatterton has five kids in the Noblesville School district, ranging from fifth grade to twelfth grade.

“Our textbook fee bills arrived last week in the mail, one per student, and the grand total was over $1,000 for all five of the girls,” Chatterton said. “The higher the grade level, the higher the bill.”

That’s on top of other school fees so her kids can be in band and play on the soccer team as well as the $300 she spent on school supplies. And because of these high fees, the Chatterton’s large family has to make sacrifices to pay for everyone’s fees.

“We don’t typically vacation in the summer as a family but we try to take advantage of spring break or fall break to take a trip, and we’re not doing one of those this fall,” Chatterton said. “Partially because of these bills.” Continue Reading

Back To School: How To Get Dropouts Back In College

The Commission for Higher Education wants to encourage more than 700,000 students with some college credit but no degree to return to school.

A&M-Commerce (flickr)

The Commission for Higher Education wants to encourage more than 700,000 students with some college credit but no degree to return to school.

The Commission for Higher Education this week is planning a communication campaign to convince Hoosiers with some college credit but no college degree to go back to school. That description applies to more than seven hundred thousand people across the state.

The campaign is launching now because of the Commission’s goal is to have 60 percent of Hoosiers earn a college degree by 2025 – a lofty goal that can’t happen with only the current population of college students. So the Commission is launching a campaign that encourages students who left college with completing their degree to return.

Sarah Ancel is in charge of legislation and policy priorities for the Commission. She says the new initiative will benefit the entire state’s economy. Continue Reading

Ritz: My Biggest Concern Is Pence Solidifying CECI’s Power

Ritz was elected in 2012, and shortly after Pence created the Center for Education and Career Innovation.

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Ritz was elected in 2012, and shortly after Pence created the Center for Education and Career Innovation.

Since taking office in 2012, state superintendent Glenda Ritz has faced political backlash from other education leaders in the state. With summer study committees underway and legislative issues brought back to the surface, Ritz says her biggest concern for the next legislative session is having her department pushed out for the governor’s newly created Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI).

Ritz spoke to the Bloomington Press Club Monday outlining where education policy in the state is heading over the next year and what has happened the last two. Ritz says she knew going from educator to politician would be difficult, but didn’t anticipate the governor created a new education state agency.

“I knew I was in a political situation to get some things done but I didn’t expect that to happen,” she said. Continue Reading

Education Panel: To Improve Education State Must Address Poverty

The panel touted Indiana's policy on school choice and what the state needs to do to improve.

www.audio-luci-store.it (flickr)

The panel touted Indiana's policy on school choice and what the state needs to do to improve.

A panel of national and local education leaders met in Indianapolis on Friday to discuss the future of school choice in the state and how other cities and states can replicate its success.

The University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education hosted the discussion at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. Indiana education representatives attending included Indianapolis Public Schools, The Mind Trust, Carpe Diem Schools, The Archdiocese of Indianapolis and Mayor Greg Ballard’s Office.

One of the things the Indiana education panel discussed was the success Indianapolis has with pushing forward education reform with vouchers, charter schools and expanded programs. Continue Reading

Fort Wayne Schools Receive $400,000 To Hire More Counselors

The U.S. Department of Education awarded Fort Wayne Community schools almost $400,000 to improve its counseling program.

MyTudut (flickr)

The U.S. Department of Education awarded Fort Wayne Community schools almost $400,000 to improve its counseling program.

The U.S. Department of Education awarded Fort Wayne Community Schools more than $400,000 Thursday as part of a grant to improve school counseling programs.

The grant was given to 40 school districts across the country, and Fort Wayne was the only Indiana district to receive one.

Fort Wayne Community Schools spokesperson Krista Stockman says the district will use the money to hire three new counselors that will serve at elementary schools in the district. Currently, counselors are only available in middle and high schools, and Stockman says putting counselors in elementary schools could dramatically help students.

“We know that if we can help them at a young age, the sooner we can get them the support and the assistance that they need the more impact we’ll have on long term academic success,” Stockman says. Continue Reading

Today Is Last Day Of School At Flanner House Elementary

Flanner House Elementary School in Indianpolis closed for good today after an investigation found teachers cheated on 2013 ISTEP+ tests.

Sam Klemet / WFYI

Flanner House Elementary School in Indianpolis closed for good today after an investigation found teachers cheated on 2013 ISTEP+ tests.

Flanner House Elementary—the Indianapolis charter school at the center of a cheating scandal—closes its doors for good Thursday.

Most of the school’s 176 students transferred after the board voted August 20th to close the school. Indianapolis Charter School Director Brandon Brown says there are fewer than ten students still enrolled as of today.

“It’s our understanding that all of them have already enrolled in a new school and are just choosing to actually wait and attend the school until tomorrow,” Brown said.

Brown says his office has been in regular contact with affected families and will continue to lend support as students move to new schools.

“We’re providing complete assistance with uniform costs and then any school supply cost as well,” Brown says. “Then we’re working with receiving schools to make the transition process as smooth as possible.”  Continue Reading

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