EdisonLearning: Roosevelt success in jeopardy if grant isn't awarded

2013-07-01T20:30:00Z 2013-07-02T13:33:05Z EdisonLearning: Roosevelt success in jeopardy if grant isn't awardedCarmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

Officials at a turnaround company hired to improve academics at Gary Roosevelt College and Career Academy hope to receive a school improvement grant to continue operating the school.

For the 2012-13 school year, Tennessee-based EdisonLearning applied for and received a Title I school improvement grant of $1,472,367.

EdisonLearning is one of two companies operating schools in Gary and Indianapolis that were awarded school improvement grants last school year. The operators won't know until later this month or next month if they will win the grant for the 2013-14 school year.

Todd McIntire, an EdisonLearning official, said EdisonLearning has created budgets with and without the grant funds.

"The budget without the grant funds is extremely tight and would jeopardize most of the reforms begun at Roosevelt," he said. "Staffing would be cut, and key intervention programs for students in need of targeted assistance in reading and mathematics would be reduced or eliminated."

The Indiana State Board of Education voted June 24 to ask the Indiana Department of Education to maintain funding for turnaround academies at the same level as last year, McIntire said.

The school improvement grant is competitive and the size of the awards are based on available U.S. Department of Education funds, the number of programs the state education department wants to support and the quality of the applications, McIntire said. The grants are not tied to enrollment, he said.

McIntire said Roosevelt became a turnaround academy because of many consecutive years of failure. At the Indiana Department of Education's request, EdisonLearning developed a four-year plan to turn around the school.

"One year of that plan has been completed. In order to complete the next three years of the plan, funding must remain at a similar level. Without the funding, students who have benefited from the initial stages of the turnaround will lose," McIntire said.

Gary Roosevelt, along with Indianapolis' Donnan Middle School and Arlington, Manual and Howe high schools, were handed over to outside operators after six consecutive years of F grades for low test scores.

All the takeover companies received federal grants to help with the turnaround efforts last year.

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz said the state Department of Education is working quickly to inform schools whether they will receive the grants again this school year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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