Crusader staff report
EdisonLearning Inc. was officially given another opportunity to manage Roosevelt College and Career Academy when the State Board of Education approved a new contract to operate Gary’s oldest historically Black school.
Under the agreement, EdisonLearning will continue running Roosevelt, but will do so with support and guidance from the Gary Community School Corporation. Both organizations will oversee Roosevelt’s academics and performance goals. They aim to transform Roosevelt into an innovative network school under the state law that established state turnaround guidelines.
The contract will begin in July and will run for five years.
It’s the second contract for EdisonLearning, which began managing Roosevelt after the state took over the school in 2011, following six straight years of F grades.
EdisonLearning was paid with Gary’s share of tuition support money for Roosevelt, about $3 million to $4 million annually.
Since then, Roosevelt continued receiving F grades under EdisonLearning’s leadership. However, state educators saw a glimpse of hope after test scores and graduation rates improved slightly. Roosevelt’s graduation rate improved from 41 percent in 2012 to 57 percent last year.
Today, 85 percent of Roosevelt’s graduates are enrolled in two or four year college or vocational programs, compared to 60 percent in 2012. Attendance at Roosevelt has jumped from 71 percent to 92 percent.
The improvements were not enough to lift Roosevelt’s F grade. During that time, EdisonLearning operated Roosevelt by itself, amid friction and tensions from educators and administrators. Under the new contract, the Gary Community School Corporation and EdisonLearning are more optimistic about working together to turn around the academic climate at Roosevelt.
Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt, and EdisonLearning CEO and founder Thom Jackson, told state board members that they are moving forward with a transitional model to improve achievement and the career potential for students.
Built in 1923, Roosevelt is Gary’s oldest predominately Black high school with a storied history. It was built specifically for Blacks when Gary and its high schools were heavily segregated and predominately white. Since then, Roosevelt has produced some of America’s most prominent Black leaders, including Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.
In the last several decades, the school fell on hard times. Like many urban schools across the country, dwindling enrollment and budget woes have taken a toll on Roosevelt. Like other Gary schools, enrollment has also declined. Today, Roosevelt has about 600 students in grades 7-12.
“The climate, safety and the graduation rate has improved,” Pruitt said.