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State’s Coalition School Pilot Program Approved By Board of Education

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David Freitas and Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick are both members of the Indiana State Board of Education. – Jeanie Lindsay/IPB News

The state’s first set of coalition schools received approval from the State Board of Education Wednesday. The group of districts will waive some state requirements to change how they offer career and technical education, or CTE.

Lawmakers passed a bill earlier this year to let school districts group together in the name of innovation, basically to form a think tank, and build partnerships across community lines. A key feature of the pilot program allows coalition schools to waive certain state requirements like teacher licensure and course curriculum.

Board member David Freitas says that can allow schools to find creative methods for CTE programs.

“We’re giving up, maybe, some of the constraints on schools that we put on schools,” he says.

Some laws and regulations can’t be waived, like collective bargaining for teachers and required background checks. Coalition schools must also have board approval on which regulations they plan to work around.

Freitas says the idea could spread if it succeeds.

“I think innovative practices are terrific, pilot programs that the legislature puts forward I think is a very positive thing and if it works, let’s expand it to other parts of the state,” he says.

The seven districts that make up the inaugural class of the coalition hope to implement new practices in the upcoming school year. Those include Batesville Community Schools, Concord Community Schools, Crothersville Community Schools, Greater Clark County Schools, Goshen Community Schools, Elkhart Community Schools, and Metropolitan School District of Decatur Township.

More districts may be gradually allowed into the group over the next three years, with a final cap at 30 districts in 2021.

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