Indiana’s turnaround schools are getting the extra federal dollars they requested. Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz announced federal School Improvement Grant awards last week, and three-fourths of the state’s $9 million in discretionary SIG funding went to five “turnaround academies.”
Awards under the federally funded Section 1003(a) grant program included $1,474,000 for Roosevelt Academy, $1,402,000 for Arlington High School and $1,329,000 each for Thomas Carr Howe High School, Emma Donnan Middle School and Emmerich Manual High School. School Improvement Grants are awarded by state education agencies to boost performance at persistently under-achieving schools.
Roosevelt, in Gary, is run by Edison Learning. The other four are in Indianapolis. Arlington is run by Indianapolis-based EdPower, and Howe, Donnan and Manual are operated by Charter Schools USA. The state took charge of the schools in 2011 and turned to “turnaround school operators” to administer them. Ritz, no fan of state school takeover, handed oversight to the Indianapolis schools to the Indianapolis mayor’s office in February.
At the State Board of Education meeting in June, Marcus Robinson, CEO of EdPower, insisted Arlington needed at least as much SIG money this year as it received last year to keep operating. State board members urged Ritz to make sure Arlington and the other turnaround schools got the money.
The four Indianapolis turnaround schools also got a significant windfall in state dollars last year because their enrollment declined dramatically – yet their state funding levels were based partially on larger enrollments from the previous school year, when they were part of Indianapolis Public Schools. The result was state per-pupil funding for the schools that was more than double the Indiana average.
That windfall is going away this year, because state funding will be based on the schools’ reduced 2012-13 enrollment – hence the urgency for scoring the additional money in School Improvement Grants.
Ritz also announced $17 million last week in School Improvement Grants under Section 1003(g), a separate federal program. Most of that goes to continue three-year grants to urban schools, nearly all of them in Evansville, Indianapolis and Gary. Two schools picked up new 1003(g) grants this year – $1,288,490 to Raymond F. Brandes School in Indianapolis and $675,473 to Allen Elementary School in Marion.