Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

State Board To Consider Earmarking Funds For Formerly Failing Schools

Members of the State Board of Education will decide whether or not to earmark funds to support some of Indiana’s formerly failing public schools. (Alexander McCall/WFIU News)

Members of the State Board of Education will decide whether or not to earmark funds to support some of Indiana’s formerly failing public schools. (Alexander McCall/WFIU News)

Although we’re in the midst of summer, Indiana’s top school officials have a lot to think about as the next school year approaches.

In particular, members of the State Board of Education will decide whether or not to earmark funds to support some of Indiana’s formerly failing public schools during Wednesday’s SBOE meeting in Muncie, Ind.

Melissa Ambre, Indiana Department of Education’s director of school finance, asks the board to dedicate nearly $8.7 million to four schools in Indianapolis and Gary, in memos dated June 22.

If approved, the department would dedicate $1.5 million over the next six months to Emma Donnan Elementary and Middle School, $2 million to Thomas Carr Howe Community High School, $2.7 million to Emmerich Manual, all in Indianapolis, and $2.5 million to Theodore Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy in Gary.

“The Department respectfully asks the Board to adopt the Department’s recommendations,” wrote Ambre in the memo.

Charter Schools USA, a Florida-based charter operator, currently operates Emma Donnan and Thomas Carr Howe. Emmerich Manual and Theordore Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy are operated by their respective districts.

As we’ve reported, Indiana has had three types of turnaround models:

  • Lead Partner: An external partner contracted by the state works with the school corporation in a limited capacity to operate certain aspects of the school.
  • Turnaround School Operator (TSO): An external partner contracted by the state operates the school independently, similar to a charter school. The school corporation continues to provide some operational services.
  • Transformation Zone: The school corporation develops its own turnaround plan, operating under varying degrees of state oversight. The school corporation can, but is not required to, work with an external partner contracted by the state as a turnaround operator.

All original Lead Partners have withdrawn from the turnaround academies they operated. The committee acknowledged that strategy wasn’t very effective, and went so far as to recommend abandoning that model at turnaround academies.

Under state law, the education department must make support payments to turnaround schools every 40 days. If approved, the school turnaround payments to would begin on July 15 and be adjusted based on student head counts in September and February.

The funds are supposed to aid school operators in a number of areas, including raising test scores, transforming instruction and adjusting school climate.

The state board of education will also consider approval of new multilingual proficiency rules, new consultant positions in Gary and adjustments to the Spring 2016 ISTEP.

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