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SBOE Hearings To Decide Future Of Takeover Schools

Mandy Jansen


Public hearings are expected to start next month on the future of four long-troubled schools under state intervention.

All are in the fifth year of turnaround efforts by the State Board of Education and have been run by a charter school company picked by the board since 2012.

The board now must decide if the schools are returned to their home school corporation, changed into a charter school or some other combination of those options.

No matter the decision, board member Sarah O’Brien wants students and families to find out quickly how the schools could be altered for 2016-17 school year.

“They (should have) have ample time to understand exactly what their school looks like and what the game plan will be,” O’Brien said during Wednesday’s regular board meeting in Indianapolis.

In 2012 the state took over five schools, after six straight years of “F” grades and hired private companies to run the schools.

Three of the schools are run by Florida-based Charter Schools USA -- Emma Donnan Middle School, Howe High School and Manual High School -- all in Indianapolis. New York-based Edison Learning manages Roosevelt High School in Gary.

The fifth school, Arlington Community High School, was returned to Indianapolis Public Schools district in 2015 after the managing company ended its contract with the board over a funding dispute.

All of the schools saw significant drops in enrollment when the charter companies took over in the 2012-13 school year.

Manual is the only school to improve to a D on the state’s A-F grading scale.

Due to changes in sate law the past two years, the state board more options on how to continue its intervention. Members can approve these schools become a “network innovation school” -- which means they would become part of a public school district but operate independently.

IPS already partnered with Charter Schools USA to create Emma Donnan Elementary School, a feeder to the middle school.

Under these agreements, the schools considered part of IPS or another public district for student enrollment and academics, such as ISTEP scores and A-F school grades.

The public hearings will be held in the school districts where the takeover schools are located. A schedule for the hearings have yet to be set but board members expect a early March hearing for Roosevelt High School in Gary.