State owes Roosevelt a future

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Roosevelt College and Career Academy

CRUSADER EDITORIAL

When the Indiana State Board of Education took over then Roosevelt High School in 2012, it stunned alumni and the Gary community. Though the decision was difficult to swallow, many agreed something had to be done. Once a symbol of pride, Roosevelt had a string of six consecutive F grades on the state’s accountability system.

As the state set out to turn around Roosevelt, it flexed its power and authority to show Roosevelt alumni, teachers and parents how to run a troubled school. It gave an ultra-lucrative contract to EdisonLearning to manage Roosevelt and have sole authority over the school’s academic curriculum.

Year after year, for nearly a full decade, the state gave EdisonLearning nearly five million while failing to hold the corporation accountable for delivering little to no academic progress. In the end EdisonLearning would earn over $31 million while Roosevelt would remain with underachieving students, a crumbling, neglected building and now an uncertain future.

Not only was it a failed takeover, the contract was an embarrassing waste of taxpayers’ money in a state that prides itself on being fiscally responsible.

EdisonLearning disappointed many, but the real blame lies with the Indiana State of Board of Education. The state cannot blame anyone for this mess, for they had full power and authority over Roosevelt’s future and blew it.

The state set out to teach Gary a lesson but instead got a hard and humbling lesson themselves. Instead of saving Roosevelt, the ISOBE enabled EdisonLearning by doing nothing as Roosevelt continued to decline.

One day after the state decided to end its takeover with Roosevelt, the school was delivered another blow.

Eric Parish, an MGT executive with the emergency management team in the state-controlled district recommended that Roosevelt be permanently closed, saying the district would be unable to afford renovaction of the building, which would cost between $9.3 million to 15 million to repair.

With EdisonLearning out of the picture, it was Roosevelt’s first challenge while under authority of the state-controlled school district, which was responsible for maintaining Roosevelt’s crumbling building that was shuttered in January 2019 after the pipes burst.

Community meetings were canceled without explanation, while the state remained silent as it failed to failed to hold the emergency management team accountable. Only when the Crusader began reporting on the problems is when community meetings about Roosevelt begin to happen.

But the lack of transparency and deception about the maintenance of Roosevelt’s historic building continued as the structure remains shuttered and subjected to further disrepair.

For nearly a decade, Roosevelt has been in the hands of the state in some form or fashion. Now the same entity that failed the school with a flawed takeover will decide whether to close it. We hope the state officials will eat some humble pie before giving its final decision. The state owes Roosevelt a future that it promised but failed to deliver.

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