Lew Wallace spared closing under new Gary school plan
By Carole Carlson email@example.com/302-0949 May 22, 2014 7:28PM
Gary superintedent of schools Cheryl Pruitt | Post-Tribune file photo
Updated: June 24, 2014 8:17AM
GARY — Lew Wallace could remain open under a proposal being considered by the school board that would turn it into a middle school and a freshman academy.
The board could vote on a proposal to shutter five schools at its 6 p.m. meeting Tuesday at the Banneker Achievement Center.
Being considered for closing are Brunswick, Bailly, and Webster elementaries, Dunbar-Pulaski Middle School and the Lincoln-Achievement Center, a small school that houses special needs students who would be relocated to another school.
In February, the school board began a discussion on the closings with Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt who initially recommended Lew Wallace close.
In February, Pruitt also said there would be community forums on the closings, which haven’t been held yet. If the board votes Tuesday, there will barely be two months for teacher, staff, student and equipment shifts to take place.
Both Lew Wallace High School and Dunbar-Pulaski are in their fifth year of state academic probation and a sixth year of sub-par test scores could trigger a state takeover or other drastic action. With the closings, that won’t happen.
Lew Wallace would house seventh- and eighth-graders and freshman, in a separate program.
In a statement released Thursday, Pruitt said: “I know it can be difficult and emotional talking about moving students to a new environment, but we are determined to look at all the options available to make sure we give our children an encouraging, safe environment.”
Pruitt said she hoped jobs won’t be lost because she estimated about 200 employees plan to retire.
“We want to be able to put money in the classroom and give pay increases to teachers and other staff,” she said.
Other proposed changes include the continued housing of Bailly Preparatory Academy students at the Watson Boys Academy. The students have been at Watson since January because of burst pipes at Bailly.
The remaining elementaries — Beveridge, Glen Park Academy, Jefferson, Marquette, and Williams — would be for grades K-6. Banneker would remain grades K-8 and McCullough Girls Academy, grades K-7. Wirt-Emerson Visual and Performing Arts Academy would be for grades 5-12.
New Tech High School would be housed within West Side Leadership Academy.
School spokeswoman Charmella Greer said course offerings will be expanded at the Gary Career Center.