MERRILLVILLE | Local educators are getting an opportunity to work with the Indiana Department of Education on a revised vision for school improvement across the state.
Teresa Brown, IDOE assistant superintendent, said there will be nine summits across the state to garner opinions from educators about the revised plan. Working with outreach coordinator Linda Randolph, of East Chicago, a retired educator, Brown said the plan will be designed to drive improvement across the state and make it relevant and meaningful.
Brown said, "Glenda Ritz is committed to local improvement, a grassroots effort where everyone has an opportunity to provide input on the plan."
Brown also said the department intends to have the plan ready by mid-November, with implementation sometime in January.
About 80 educators from Lake, Porter, Newton and Jasper counties turned out for the summit at Merrillville High School's freshman center.
Educators said a comprehensive plan must include a focus on leadership, curriculum and instruction, families and communities, extended learning, professional development, technology, accountability, early childhood education and a highly qualified staff.
Ed Schoenfelt, executive director of the Northwest Indiana Educational Service Center, said he is interested in partnering with the state department in its new vision.
"We have a wonderful lakeshore and much diversity here," Schoenfelt said. "Our schools have produced outstanding leaders. Every school has a school improvement plan, though some are sitting on a shelf. We've got some challenges, no question about it. We all need to work together and learn from each other, urban, suburban and rural."
The Northwest Indiana Educational Service Center, based at Liberty Intermediate School in the Duneland School Corp., Chesterton, is one of nine service centers in Indiana.
Lake Central Assistant Superintendent Al Gandolfi said it will be difficult to develop a statewide plan that meets the needs of every school system in the state. "The pieces of a rubric that are designed for Northwest Indiana may not fit a smaller community in the state. This is not going to be as easy to get done as they say," he said.
Dee Jones, of Hammond, who has long served in PTA at the local, state and national levels and advocated for children and families, said she wants to make sure the needs of children and family are represented in the plan.