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Curtain Call? State Board Could Look Different After May Meeting

The Indiana State Board of Education meets Thursday in Indianapolis. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

The State Board of Education meets Thursday in Indianapolis. (Photo Credit: Rachel Morello/StateImpact Indiana)

School is almost out for summer, but the books never close for the State Board of Education.

The group continues its work Thursday in Indianapolis, in what could be one of its final meetings with the current roster of members.

Check out why, and what else is on the to-do list for the board’s May meeting:

Legislative session: The General Assembly wrapped up its 2015 session last week, and they didn’t call it the “education session” for nothing. Among the school-related items approved by lawmakers in both chambers was Senate Bill 1, a measure calling for major board shake-up, including:

  • Allowing the state superintendent to remain board chair until January 2017, after which the board will elect a chair annually from among its ranks,
  • Appointing a vice chair beginning July 1 of this year,
  • Reducing the number of gubernatorial appointments (previously 10) to eight, and
  • Allowing the House Speaker and Senate President Pro Tem to each appoint one board member.

State Superintendent Glenda Ritz already shared her sentiments on the measure, as have a few board members. David Freitas, Gordon Hendry and Brad Oliver released a joint statement on Hendry’s website last week signaling their desire to remain on the board when it comes time to re-appoint members:

“There have been significant changes made in education policy in Indiana in recent years that have been challenging at times to work through as a Board. At the end of the day, we’ve crafted and implemented policies that have moved Hoosier schools in the right direction for our kids.

“As a bipartisan group, we’ve worked both with Indiana education leaders and groups such as the National Association of State Boards of Education to make sure our state is tackling tough challenges and helping families. We hope we will be able to continue that important work into the future.”

Should Gov. Mike Pence sign the bill into law, he along with House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, and Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, may start making their choices June 1, so this month’s meeting could be the last we see some current board members.

ISTEP+ Update: The Department of Education has been sending out updates about the current online portion of the statewide ISTEP+ once or twice a week since it began April 23. Schools wrap up this year’s assessment by May 15, after which Indiana says goodbye to the current format and welcomes a new version to be designed by British testing company Pearson. IDOE Assessment Director Michelle Walker will no doubt have an update for the board about progress in crafting the 2016 test, and the board plans to establish test dates for the upcoming year.

A-F Grades: Next year will be the first for another statewide system – a new A-F school accountability grading program. The board approved initial rule language in January, and traveled the state throughout February to gauge public reaction to the proposal. Barring any major issues, they are poised to approve the new language this month.

ADM Approval: The board will approve Average Daily Membership (ADM) counts for the current school year – those were taken in September and February. Those numbers are important because they help determine how much state funding a school is eligible for. This isn’t a new agenda item – count approval happens every year – but it is interesting because the General Assembly just passed a new biennial budget that tweaks the state’s school funding formula, so the amount of money schools see this year may change when ADM counts come before the board in 2016 and beyond.

The meeting will be live-streamed beginning Thursday at 9 a.m.

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