Former Merrillville schools chief opposes charter school
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent May 18, 2014 7:18PM
Tony Lux, superintendent, Merrillville Community School Corp. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 23, 2014 11:46AM
MERRILLVILLE — Retired Merrillville Community School Corp. Superintendent Anthony Lux last week outlined the detrimental effects that he said charter schools have had on the public school system, providing input as the town council weighs a proposal to open a charter school on Louisiana Street.
In March, the board of zoning appeals approved a zoning variance to allow the Tron-Agek’ Educational Foundation of Merrillville to build a charter school focusing on science, technology, engineering and math at 8380 Louisiana St.
The plan for the school, to be called Northwest Indiana Science and Engineering, has yet to make it to the town council. It’s expected to be discussed again at Wednesday’s council workshop.
Lux said charter schools, which receive public funds, take money from traditional public schools — causing many school districts to go to referendum for funding needs or to impose cutbacks — but there’s no requirement that charter schools’ parent companies disclose how much they are making from the schools. He also said charter schools are supposed to be about choice, but they can be choosy about what students they will accept.
“If the students have too many needs, they often are sent back to the public schools. Going back and forth to different schools is not in the best interest of kids,” Lux said.
“We need to support public education and not direct state money to charter schools and vouchers,” Lux said, adding it hasn’t been demonstrated that charter schools are more successful academically than public schools.
Council president Carol Miano, D-3rd, thanked Lux for his presentation, saying “we do not need any charter schools in this town.”
At the BZA meeting in March, Councilman Richard Hardaway, D-2nd, gave his support to the charter school.
East Chicago attorney Dawn Dawkins, representing Tron-Agek’, said foundation officials would meet with council members at Wednesday’s workshop. She said the concerns seem to be over “educational philosophy” while the issue at hand is land use.