INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Private companies that were hired to run five Indiana
schools taken over by the state for poor performance say they might not be
able to continue because of funding concerns.
The companies received federal grant money when they stepped in to run four
Indianapolis schools and one in Gary. But the schools won’t know until July
whether they will receive School Improvement Grants again this year. Some of
the grants have been delayed because of a discrepancy in the amount of
funding that the Indiana Department of Education and U.S. Department of
Education needed to work out, The Indianapolis Star reported.
Under their contracts with the state, the private companies can withdraw
with 60 days’ notice. That could mean a group that gave notice this month
would sever its ties with a takeover school after the school year begins in
EdPower CEO Marcus Robinson said turnaround schools have more expenses and
need the grant money to supplement their normal state subsidy. The federal
government provides the grants, which are administered by the state.
Robinson said withdrawing from running Arlington High School is a
possibility if the company doesn’t receive about $1.3 million in extra aid
it got last year. But he said doing so would be a “catastrophe” for the
students, the community and the staff.
“We love the kids in this building. They’re very much a part of our hearts,
very much ingratiated in our work. But ultimately, if we can’t get this
grant, we can’t afford to do the work,” he told WRTV.
State schools superintendent Glenda Ritz said the Indiana Department of
Education is working quickly to inform schools whether they will receive the
Some State Board of Education members have questioned her department’s
commitment to the takeover schools, noting that the takeovers occurred under
former state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett. Ritz
campaigned against state takeovers.
Indianapolis’ Donnan Middle School and Arlington, Manual and Howe high
schools were handed over to outside operators after six straight years of F
grades for low test scores.
The takeover schools all received SIG grants to help with the turnaround
efforts last year. Robinson said EdPower was notified in May 2012 that it
would receive the money, which he said was critical to operating Arlington.
But state officials said the process has been delayed by two months this
year, giving schools little notice of their funding before the school year
Ritz said it was impossible to notify grant recipients any sooner.
“How do you make assurances to the schools prior to the process being
formally implemented?” she said.
“We are well aware of the schools that are the lowest-performing and intend
to support them to be sure they are going to be functional,” she said. “If
anyone has any doubt about that, you needn’t. I plan to do that.”