The Crusader Newspaper Group

Gary emergency manager to be named July 31

Crusader staff report

Just weeks before the 2017-2018 school year begins, the new emergency manager who will usher in an era of state control for Gary Schools will be named on Monday, July 31.

The state Distressed Unit Appeal Board (DUAB) will meet at 1 p.m. in the Ways and Means conference room in the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis. The announcement will be broadcast.

Gary native Sheleita Miller is among seven candidates who have applied for the position. She owns Gary’s Gatekeeper Accounting Services. The field of 13 candidates was narrowed down to seven. Miller faces stiff competition from a field that includes the state-mandated financial consultant Jack Martin, and Horace Mann alumnus Brandon Comer. Both candidates have firms with impressive portfolios.

The emergency manager will have both academic and financial control over the Gary Community School Corporation. Earlier this year, Governor Eric Holcomb approved legislation that allowed the state to take over Gary schools after years of dwindling enrollment and property taxes placed the district over $100 million in debt. Near the end of the school year, the district was forced to borrow millions of dollars to make payroll. Dozens of schools remain vacant.

The emergency manager will be responsible for steering Gary Schools in the right direction, but there is concern that mass layoffs and drastic cuts will take place. Last month, the board voted to lay off 44 Gary teachers. At a July 25 meeting, the DUAB discussed the criteria for the emergency manager. There was no talk about the salary of the new emergency manager.

According to one news report, a DUAB member said the board is seeking someone who is familiar with Indiana school finance. She wants the cost to be affordable, as well. Another member reportedly said long term goals and sustaining the district’s future are also important items to consider.

On July 13 at the Wirt-Emerson Visual and Performing Arts High Ability Academy, the seven candidates each gave 15 minute presentations that included their goals for Gary schools.

Those candidates and ideas include:

  • MGT Consulting Group, Tallahassee, FL. plans to start school smoothly and reach out to the Gary community.
  • Gatekeeper Accounting Services LLC Gary, IN. would develop a financial plan for the district. Owner Sheleita Miller invited longtime employees and parents to reach out to her.
  • The Robert Bobb Group Washington D.C. Bobb, a former state-appointed emergency manager for Detroit schools from 2011 to 2014, has a bid that includes Indianapolis-based Phalen Leadership Academies, which manages the charter for Gary’s Thea Bowman Leadership Academy.
  • The Bronner Group Chicago, IL. The firm said it would select DuPage (Illinois) County Board Member Paul Fichtner as emergency manager. The group pledged to set up plans for finances, staffing, educational services, and facilities within 60 days. Paul Vallas, a former Chicago Public School chief and now temporary chief administrator officer at Chicago State University will be among the group’s academic leadership.
  • Comer Capital Group Jackson, MS. A consulting firm led by Gary Horace Mann alumnus Brandon Comer who helped the district to secure a $1.5 million loan in March. His mother reportedly worked as a teacher in Gary for over three decades.
  • Martin, Arrington, Desai & Meyers, Detroit, MI. The group is led by Jack Martin, who has worked as Gary’s state-mandated financial consultant since 2015.
  • Crowe Horwath, Chicago, IL. The accounting firm specializes in audits, taxes, risk and performance.

Recent News

Scroll to Top