Crusader staff report
Clorius Lay, a prominent Gary attorney who has built a stellar career of activism and community service, has been selected to serve on the fiscal management board that will advise a state-appointed emergency manager who seeks to turn around the district’s financial and academic fortunes.
Lay will join state Senator Earline Rogers, who was appointed to the board by Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson this month.
The two prominent figures add a growing level of experience and depth to a board that will play an important role in helping to turn Gary Schools around.
The district has debts totaling $103 million, despite staff layoffs, budget cuts and school closures. Two more members of the fiscal management board will be selected, but so far the appointments have helped allay concerns that the emergency manager will have a board lacking the wisdom, and knowledge of Gary, as critical decisions are made over the district’s future.
Members of the school board cannot serve on the advisory board.
According to one news report, School Board President Rosie Washington said two candidates were interviewed for the position. In addition to Lay, Ivy Tech Gary campus president Marlon Mitchell was also interviewed. Lay scored slightly higher than Mitchell, according to the report.
With less than a month before Gary Schools end their academic year before the summer break, anxieties among parents and teachers are setting in as to what changes will be in place when the new school year begins in the fall. So far, the transition to a new era has been calm, but concerns linger.
A member of the Calumet Township Board, Lay has been a practicing attorney for 43 years. He has served the Gary Community School Corporation for 25 years in various capacities. After graduating from Froebel High School, Lay earned a B.S. degree in Accounting and Economics from Indiana University. In two-and-a-half-years, Lay earned his law degree, (JD, Juris Doctor degree) from Valparaiso University. He also attended Harvard University, where he completed a program for high ranking state and government officials at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
In addition to legal experience, Lay is a former Gary City Councilman who has served in numerous community organizations and boards. He has served as legal counsel for the Gary Police, Gary Housing Authority, the Gary Library Board, the Genesis Convention Center and many other entities. A member of the Gary Chamber of Commerce, Lay also served as Vice President of University National Bank in Chicago.
Lay received numerous letters of support from high ranking officials from the Gary Community School Corporation, Indiana governor’s office and Harvard University.
Like Rogers, Lay will not be paid during his four-year term. Lay said the position is still an important one to him. “African Americans must have an education. Without it, African Americans will end up on the back end.”
Two remaining appointments from the State Board of Education and state superintendent of public instruction have not been made yet. The state has also yet to appoint the emergency manager who will wield academic and financial authority over Gary Schools.