3 specialists named to help turn around Gary schools

2013-02-26T22:15:00Z 2013-02-26T23:16:06Z 3 specialists named to help turn around Gary schoolsCarmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

GARY | The School Board on Tuesday approved hiring three more transformational specialists to turn around its failing schools.

Gary Community School Corp. Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt said transformational specialists will go into to observe and assist school leaders in developing plans for success. All three will be working in instruction, curriculum and leadership.

The positions are in place from March to September. They will be paid through Title I and Title II funds, not the general fund budget, Pruitt said.

"This transformational process is not new," Pruitt said. "These people will be in our underperforming schools to turn them around. We want all of our schools to be Blue Ribbon schools. They will assist the school leader. They will work with the whole child, not just academics."

Those named were Sarah Givens, Leonard Brown and state Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary.

Givens, who is the longtime principal of Banneker Achievement Center, the district's sole Blue Ribbon school, will continue her responsibilities at Banneker and take on new duties to work with other schools.

School officials said an assistant principal would be added at the school to relieve Givens of some of her responsibilities so she could fulfill her new duties. Givens earns $85,986 as principal. For her new responsibilities, the district added $15,000 for a total of $100,986.

Brown, the Bernard Watson Academy for Boys principal, also was named a specialist. He will continue as the elementary school principal and assume the additional duties. Brown earns $77,527, and the district added $15,000 for a total of $92,527 for his new role. An assistant principal is already at the school to assist as needed.

Smith, who is also an Indiana University Northwest professor, will be paid $90,000 prorated based on his availability.

Smith is currently serving in the Indiana General Assembly and is expected to fulfill those responsibilities before beginning work with the Gary district in April.

Officials said Smith will be compensated for his work when he is in the district at a rate of $375 per day, or $46.88 per hour.

The vote for the three positions was 5-2, with School Board members LaBrenda King-Smith and Nellie Moore voting against it.

King-Smith said she didn't agree with the positions because the district faced a $12 million deficit in its general fund in 2012. As a result, it laid off teachers, administrators and clerical staff.

These three new specialists join former Gary teacher and administrator Clifton Gooden and former Roosevelt College and Career Academy Principal Terrance Little. Little worked as principal under management company EdisonLearning, which took over the failing Roosevelt school a couple of years ago.

Pruitt said there will be eight transformational specialists altogether, and three more will be hired.

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