The Indiana State Board of Education approved funding for Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy during its meeting Dec. 20.
The board awarded nearly $2.5 million to EdisonLearning, a private management company that operates the Gary school. That money is for the period of Jan. 1 to June 30 and comes from state allocations to the Gary Community School Corp.
Gary Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt said the district has been required to give some of its allocation to EdisonLearning since it began operating the high school.
"It's important to remember that Roosevelt is not a charter school, it's a turnaround school," she said. "It's just being managed by another organization. That contract expires in 2016. We want to begin conversations about what happens after that contract ends. We are halfway through that period. We are concerned about the building. We are trying to fix those things that need to be done. We are concerned about the academics of those students, because ultimately those are our children."
It's been two years since the Indiana Department of Education appointed Tennessee-based EdisonLearning to manage the failing high school. The company was charged with turning the school around and implementing a strong instructional program and positive environment.
In its first year, EdisonLearning developed a comprehensive evaluation plan. In 2012, the company began to implement a four-year turnaround plan serving a little more than 600 students in grades seven through 12.
The State Board of Education also approved school grades Friday, giving EdisonLearning Roosevelt an F, the same grade it received when it was operated by the Gary school district.
A couple of months ago, EdisonLearning official Vanessa Ronketto released graduation statistics and other information for fiscal year 2013. Ronketto said 63 students graduated, or 47 percent, for the class of 2013. She said the school had 134 seniors at the end of the 2012-13 school year.
Data on the seniors is not where EdisonLearning officials want it to be, Ronketto said. However, there's some silver linings, such as all students graduated with Core 40 diplomas, she said. That includes seven special education students, she said.
"This is a big deal for our special ed students because prior to TRCCA (the academy), they were all in self-contained classes," Ronketto said. "All of the students were full inclusion this past school year and still managed to graduate on time with a Core 40 diploma."
The school also offers eCourses for free, both in school and after school. That offering allows students to recover lost credits and get back on track for graduation. The school continues to emphasize reading and math to help students pass state-mandated tests.