Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Will IPS Be Forced to Foot Someone Else's Bill?

A few years back, Arlington Community School was failing.  It still is.

Under reforms pushed by then-Governor Mitch Daniels and then-Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, the school ended up being taken over by the state, and it was placed under the control of a charter school operator called Ed Power to be reorganized and improved.

Unfortunately, the charter school operator could not fix the school.  It is still listed as a failing school under the state's unfair and awful letter grade system.
Instead of sticking around to fix the problem.  Now, Ed Power says it doesn't have enough money to run the school and is looking to the State Board of Education for help.

Can you imagine if a large public school would have thrown up its hands and said, "I'm sorry.  We just don't have the money to educate the kids in our school.  We're going to have to close."

The state would laugh and say, "Do more with less."

Many educators thought this would be a problem when takeover academies were proposed by Tony Bennett.  They asked the questions, and, clearly, the state has no answers. What happens if the takeover doesn't work?  What happens to the school then?  Furthermore, after the takeover runs its course, what happens to the school?  Unfortunately, there are no answers.  There was really no prescription on what should happen if the school were to stay open, be improved, and returned to some sort of control on its own..

With school set to open in many districts in just a few weeks, parents who were going to send their children to Arlington will now be left with a choice if the building is forced to close its doors.  This is always my concern with the proliferation of charter schools.  We keep opening them without funding them.

IPS has a willingness to absorb the buildings back within the district, but the State Board of Education is unlikely to make it that easy on the district.  I say give Arlington back to IPS.  Dr. Lewis Ferebee seems to be charting a much different course for the district, and he isn't going to simply take it back and bail it out.

Will the State Board of Education and the Indiana General Assembly force IPS to fund the charter school's efforts to run Arlington?  This story will bear watching.

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