The Crusader Newspaper Group

Charter school, closure, among options for Roosevelt Academy

Gary Crusader staff report

In the next several months, the Indiana State Board of Education will explore several options as it decides on the future of Gary’s Roosevelt College and Career Academy.

The review comes as the state’s four-year contract with EdisonLearning is set to expire at the end of the school year. With Roosevelt’s continued string of F grades while under state control, questions remain about the future of Gary’s most storied institution.

In 2012, the state took over Roosevelt after it received an F grade for six straight years. Citing a 1999 accountability law, Roosevelt was placed on an improvement plan with EdisonLearning. Despite these efforts, the school received F grades for four additional years while under state control. The school’s 44 percent graduation rate is the lowest in Lake County and far below the state average of 90 percent.

Now after the state’s failed turnaround effort, Indiana officials are looking at options that will determine Roosevelt’s future. One of them is returning Roosevelt to the Gary Community School Corporation, an organization that’s already burdened with a shrinking school district.

Another option is directing EdisonLearning to apply for a charter school status for Roosevelt. But with reportedly rocky relations between EdisonLearning and Gary school officials, it is not clear whether EdisonLearning would want to continue their working relationship with Roosevelt.

With an underutilized school building and rising maintenance costs, Education officials can merge Roosevelt with another school that has a higher academic accountability grade.

State officials could also implement a new turnaround plan, but with EdisonLearning’s problems, the board may have to search for another private education turnaround firm.

Closing Roosevelt Academy is also an option. Marc Lotter, Director of External Relations for the Indiana State Board of Education, said he is optimistic about finding a solution to Roosevelt’s problems.

Lotter said a public hearing at Roosevelt will be held next month to allow parents and Gary residents to offer their input on Roosevelt’s future. A specific date for the hearing has not been scheduled.

Officials are not discussing what option they will take, but they will wait until after the public hearing is held. State Superintendent Glenda Ritz’s press spokesman, Samantha Hart, said the final decision on Roosevelt’s future will be made “by the State Board as a whole, the members of which are largely appointed by Governor Pence.”

Lotter said despite Roosevelt’s problems there is still some hope for the school. He said last year, Roosevelt improved in the number of students passing (ECA), the End of Course Assessment tests in English 10 and Algebra. He said more time to improve should be given to schools with longstanding academic problems.

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