Proposed Merrillville charter school's art emphasis questioned

2013-09-16T20:30:00Z 2013-09-16T21:52:34Z Proposed Merrillville charter school's art emphasis questionedCarmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

MERRILLVILLE | A representative of Laurel Church Ministries made the case for a K-12 art-infused school at the church, 7525 Taft St., before the Indiana Charter School Board on Monday night. 

Naomi Resto-Smith said the church would operate the school under the name Your Dream Counts, or YDC School of the Arts. She said it would use the Pearson Education program to prepare students for college and careers.

The school would open in the fall starting with about 125 students in grades four through eight, then grow by one grade each year until it has about 325 students enrolled.

Emily Richardson, interim director of the Charter School Board, said a recommendation would be made Oct. 8 to the board, which would then make a decision. The Merrillville application was one of only two submitted to the board for the fall 2013 application period.  The other application was elsewhere in the state.

Though no one signed in to speak during the public hearing, parent Kelly Arndt said she supports the charter school because she has three children in private school, and it's very expensive. "I'm looking for an alternative," she said.

Mark Sperling, Merrillville Community School Corp. superintendent, said it seems repetitious to open up a school of the arts in a school district with a phenomenal arts program. 

"There are few educational services that the charter school applicant is proposing that are not already part of the excellence of the Merrillville schools," Sperling said. "I have reviewed the application and do not see the rigor of curriculum that is required for 21st century skills that our students need to have to be successful.

"Additionally, the numerous state level awards that our music and performing arts programs have received complement our academic focus for students and to Fieler and Pierce as model PBIS schools."

Though he didn't attend the hearing, the superintendent said he intends to submit comments to the Indiana Charter School Board.

The public also will have the opportunity to submit testimony in writing during each hearing or electronically by sending comments to charter-applications@icsb.in.gov. The deadline to email comments for the proposed school is 11:59 P.M. EDT on Sept. 25.

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