Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Turnaround Schools Will Continue To Compete With IPS For Students, Funds

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Manual High School is one of three failing Indianapolis schools that will open next month under the management of Charter Schools USA.

The relationship between Indianapolis Public Schools and the turnaround operator tasked with fixing three failing schools is improving, says Jon Hage, CEO of Charter Schools USA.

“I think it’s OK to have some competition for kids to the extent we’re all trying to create better schools.”
—Jon Hage, CEO of Charter Schools USA

“It’s no longer about what or if but now how we continue to work together because the reality is for the next four years, at least with the current contract, is IPS, CSUSA and the Department of Education will need to work as team members for the best interest of kids,” says Hage.

The company took possession of Manual High School, Emma Donnan Middle School and TC Howe High School July 1 after a transition year marked by bitter competition for students and state dollars.

Teachers at the three schools begin training this week, but turnaround operators still aren’t sure how many students to expect when school starts next month. About 40 percent of students at the takeover schools transferred to another school within IPS.

In February, after the enrollment deadline passed, teachers told StateImpact students had been kept in the dark by turnaround operators as to what classes and activities would be offered if they decided to stay. Turnaround operators held a series of public meetings to help families make a decision but said they couldn’t make any guarantees until after the final enrollment figures came back.

The new principal at Emma Donnan Middle School, Terry Stollar, says Charter Schools USA is preparing for 350 students on August 6 but expects enrollment to continue during the first few weeks of school.

“We are making plans to help those people who come in late so that they can be very efficient for them to get started in school,” says Stollar. About 530 students attended the middle school last year.

Stollar says the biggest challenge in the coming year will be changing the culture at the turnaround schools so students are excited about learning. She also says she hopes the community will rally to support the schools’ new leadership.

On Sunday, alumni spoke at a community picnic about restoring traditions to the schools. Hage says he thinks once parents see what the turnaround operators are doing, they’ll want to send their kids there instead of IPS.

“I think it’s OK to have some competition for kids to the extent we’re all trying to create better schools,” Hage says.


  • Guest

    Heard that the new principal for the high school section of Howe is a former IPS principal who led Washington High School during many of the years THEY were a “failing school,” leading to state intervention. Really?!? Seems like a pretty poor track record for your brand new principal expected to turn things around.

    • Business_B4education

      Doesn’t surprise me, CSUSA started a school in Ga, I was there only a couple of months, what a disaster!!!! They seem to have their own secret society, try getting information… you will have to go through some chain of command. Watch how fast they hire and fire the teachers, great school if your into extracuricular activies… STAY AWAY if your child has an IEP!! I’m not sure how they get away with not providing services under a federally mandated document. Watch the grading system… 1 question test… 100% 2/2 you get 100%…. yes they must be creating all brainiacs!!! LOL I’ll be kind and give them an F- for my experience.

  • Darla

    Jon Hage,
    Some one give us are transportation back! If transportation stays the way it is parents will have no choose but to put their child back in IPS and this is what Dr. White is waiting on because he knows we are low income families and an extra $50.00 or more a week from parents to get their children to and from school can not be done. What ever happened to high school students picking their high school just because they wanted to go there and the transportation was provided? Someone took that right away from us!
    What are you doing to get all 3 schools transportation for all the children? The press needs to ask that question before all the children are gone!

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