GARY | Thea Bowman Leadership Academy in Gary has laid off 10 people, including a teacher and several aides, to save $800,000 in the school's budget.
Sarita Stevens, principal at the charter school's high school, said enrollment is down this fall compared to last with a total K-through-12 enrollment of 1,278 students. Of that number, 605 are enrolled in the high school.
She said the charter school is moving to a model to create interventions for students so they will pass the state-mandated exam.
"We eliminated the career/technical class at the seventh-grade level and replaced it with an ISTEP-Plus lab," she said. "This lab will be a preparatory lab and will address preparation for other exams such as the SAT, PSAT and ACT assessments."
She said the teacher who lost a job was not certified. She said administrators also rearranged hours for the school librarians and counselors who will work a half day at the high school and a half day in the elementary building.
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"Between human resources and general fund projects, we had to eliminate about $800,000 from the budget," she said. "We also eliminated some extracurricular activities where the building was open long hours."
Stevens said the teachers are dedicated, and many are volunteering their time after school to help students.
She said there will be an end-of-course assessment boot camp for students in November to help them prepare for the state assessment.
"The teachers are volunteering to work with our students, and some of that will happen on Saturdays," Stevens said. "We are looking for grants to try and pay our teachers."
Similarly, schools across Northwest Indiana have had to lay off teachers and support staff, including 21st Century Charter School in Gary, which laid off eight people earlier this month.