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Gary school district hires Roosevelt turnaround principal

Terrance Little right gestures while answering questions during press conference Gary Tuesday May 29 2012. Little was introduced as principal

Terrance Little, right, gestures while answering questions during a press conference in Gary Tuesday May 29, 2012. Little was introduced as the principal who will lead EdisonLearning's Roosevelt College and Career Academy next year. EdisonLearning'sTodd McIntire is at left. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 14, 2013 6:52AM



GARY — In a surprise move, the Gary School Board hired current Roosevelt Career and College Academy principal Terrance Little to help turn around the district’s struggling schools.

Little was hired as the transformation specialist for culture, climate and special education less than a year after EdisonLearning Inc. named Little to lead the school. The state took control of Roosevelt after years of poor academic performance. Little would have to quit his post at Roosevelt to start his job with the district.

The board voted 5-2 to accept Little, but several board members were bothered by the hire.

Board member Nellie Moore voted against all the recommendations, saying the district should not be hiring anyone when it’s laying off teachers and other employees. Board member LaBrenda King Smith wondered why they were hiring Little in the middle of the school year and why he was taking a $40,000 pay cut.

Former West Side principal Clifford Gooden was approved to be the transformation specialist for leadership. A motion to hire state Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, as the specialist for curriculum and instruction failed to garner a second and didn’t come up for a vote. The specialists will be paid around $95,000, and they will be paid out of federal Title I and II funds until the end of September.

Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt said the specialists will focus on improving the district’s ‘F’ schools. Pruitt said the district will look for more people to fill the third specialist position rather than resubmit Smith’s name. She expects the specialists to start by the beginning of March, and she said Little’s employment with EdisonLearning shouldn’t cause a delay.

“They will be working those schools that are failing,” Pruitt said. “Those that are doing well and making (Annual Yearly Progress) won’t need as much close attention.”

In other news, the district moved $14 million from its rainy day fund into the general fund, to help cover salaries, utilities and other costs.



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