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Gary’s high-risk status brings full-time state school presence

Updated: September 18, 2014 6:15AM



GARY — An Indiana Department of Instruction staffer now is embedded full-time in the Gary Community School Corp. as a result of the district’s “high risk” designation.

Daniel Bundridge, a former regional outreach coordinator for the IDOE’s Outreach Division of School Improvement, introduced himself to the school board Tuesday.

Bundridge said he’s now state director of school improvement for the state.

He said he’s been assigned to Gary as the DOE’s chief liaison to oversee federally funded programs and increase accountability.

Because of his former position as outreach coordinator, Bundridge said he’s already spent many hours working with Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt and her staff.

Earlier this year, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz designated Gary as a “high risk” district because of nagging financial issues and poor academic scores.

The state now is managing all of the district’s federal funding and is leading a teacher training program aimed at improving classroom performance.

Pruitt and Ritz held a press conference in March and Pruitt insisted the designation did not amount to a state takeover. Ritz said she’s focused on helping the district to turn itself around.

The district posted the lowest ISTEP Plus scores in the state in results released last week. It just closed five schools in an effort to escape a $27.3 budget deficit. Some vendors and utility bills have gone unpaid, but school officials said Tuesday the closings and job cuts will keep the district afloat.

A release Wednesday from Ritz’s office said Bundridge’s full-time status “will improve collaboration between the Department and Gary while also focusing on the turnaround principles of effective leadership, school climate and culture, and effective instruction.”

Two years ago, the state placed another full-time staff member in the district to assist it in reaching federal compliance levels in special education.

Twitter: @ccwriterPT



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