Charter School of the Dunes to finish building despite nonrenewal of charter

2013-02-05T18:30:00Z 2013-02-07T00:13:04Z Charter School of the Dunes to finish building despite nonrenewal of charterCarmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

GARY | Despite notice that its charter won't be renewed, Charter School of the Dunes is operating in the black and will finish its $13 million school building, officials said.

The charter school began construction of a new building at U.S. 20 and Old Hobart Road last summer, and the building is expected to be complete in July.

But Charter School of the Dunes is among seven schools the Office Of Charter Schools at Ball State University recently determined would not receive renewed charters after a review of academic, financial and organizational performance and compliance. The other local school not renewed was LEAD College Prep, also in Gary.

Both Charter School of the Dunes and LEAD College Prep have filed an appeal of the decision, said Ball State University spokeswoman Joan Todd.

A decision could be announced within 20 days of a hearing, she said.

Charter School of the Dunes Board President Danielle Sleight said she has notified the banks involved with financing the construction about the situation.

"I have not heard back from them yet," she said late Thursday. "This was a very competitive process. We put this deal together, and all of this had to go through Ball State. We all walked away feeling confident that this was a deal that was safe to do."

Parents of students at the charter school have been meeting to mobilize and urge Ball State to reverse its decision.

While the appeal is under way, Sleight said the school also is looking at other options. She said it could apply for a charter from other authorizing agencies, including the Indiana State Charter Board and the Gary Community School Corp.

Gary Community School Corp. Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt, who has expressed interest in opening a charter school, said she had a preliminary conversation with Sleight, and "it's something we would consider."

Claire Fiddian-Green, executive director of the Indiana Charter School Board, said letters of intent for people interested in applying for charter authorization are due Feb. 15.

Previously, Ball State had terminated authorization for only one school, Urban Brightest in Fort Wayne in 2004. Ball State officials said the recent nonrenewals were subjected to more stringent criteria after the Office of Charter Schools aligned its policies and procedures to national principles and quality standards.

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