Gary charter explores other options
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org/648-3154 February 22, 2013 2:28PM
Construction work is continuing at the new Charter School of the Dunes along US 20 in Gary. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 24, 2013 6:09AM
GARY — Charter School of the Dunes still hasn’t received a hearing date on the appeal of its charter non-renewal from Ball State University, but school leaders have met with three other colleges and the Gary Community School Corp.
“We’re going with every possibility,” said Danielle Sleight, founder and president of the Charter School of the Dunes School Board. “We don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing at the moment.”
A Ball State official said Friday that hearing dates have not been set yet.
The Ball State Office of Charter Schools stunned school officials, parents and students last month when it announced it wouldn’t renew the charter, saying it wasn’t “in the best interests” of students or the community for the school to remain open.
Six other schools across the state also received notice their charters wouldn’t be renewed, including the LEAD College Preparatory Academy in the Miller neighborhood of Gary.
Ball State officials cited years of poor academic performance, and test scores below test pass rates for the Gary Community School Corp. for the non-renewals.
Charter School of the Dunes had a 41.6 percent passing score on recent ISTEP Plus results, compared to 45.5 percent in the GCSC.
In its renewal application, Charter School of the Dunes said it serves a transient population and “an overwhelming” number of those new students were at least a grade level behind when they enrolled.
Charter School of the Dunes is in the midst of construction of a $13 million school at U.S. 20 and Old Hobart Road in Miller.
The Ball State rejection left the school in a dire bind, but Sleight said banks have continued to support the school and construction has continued. Its completion date is this summer, in time for fall classes.
Sleight said she met with Gary Schools Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt and was told the district wanted to wait for the Ball State appeal, before making a decision on if it would consider chartering the school.
Last year, the Gary School Board approved launching a charter school, but no plans have been discussed since then.
Sleight said she has contacted the Indiana Charter School Board, but it’s not accepting applications until next month. She did file a letter of intent to apply.
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