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Roosevelt-Edison partnership wins state OK

Gary's Roosevelt College and Career Academy will remain under state control for at least one more year following unanimous approval of a resolution Friday by the Indiana State Board of Education in Indianapolis.

The state's five-year contract with EdisonLearning Inc. ends this year, but the state board extended the contract for one year, allowing EdisonLearning to continue to operate the school as it transitions to a new model with the Gary Community School Corp.

In 2011, the state labeled Roosevelt as a turnaround academy after it received a grade of F for six straight years. It installed EdisonLearning as its education manager.

At a March 23 public hearing, the school district and EdisonLearning received support for their plan to transition Roosevelt into an innovative school network, an education reform that provides autonomy to create charter-like innovations to increase achievement.

In addition, the transition plan will create a transformation zone, another education reform aimed at turning around low-performing schools by grouping them together and providing them with extra support. Students from those elementary schools would feed into Roosevelt, officials said.

Gary Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt and EdisonLearning CEO Thom Jackson issued a joint statement: "It is our firm desire to address all aspects of school improvement; building leadership capacity; enhance the learning environment, engage families and students; improve teaching; and promote intelligent use of data to best address the personalized needs of all students."

They stressed to parents that Roosevelt will remain open "and continue the legacy of the remarkable individuals in Gary who graduated from, attended, taught or worked in its distinctive colonial revival building, which is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places."

Pruitt and Jackson also said in the statement they're seeking revenue sources from state, private and federal sources for their reform initiative.

Eddie Melton, who represents Northwest Indiana on the state board, said Roosevelt is making improvements under EdisonLearning although it's still an F grade while the company has operated the school.

Melton said math ISTEP Plus scores increased 27 percent and English/language arts scores are up 11 percent.

He said the transition plan will be a good opportunity for collaboration in Gary.

The resolution stipulates Roosevelt will remain as a turnaround academy under state law, still subject to state intervention at the discretion of the state board.

The resolution encouraged EdisonLearning and the Gary district to reach an agreement for the operation of Roosevelt as a transformation zone and innovation network school during the extended year of operation. That agreement must be approved by the state board.

The resolution also praised Roosevelt, recognizing its progress and applauding EdisonLearning and the school district for their collaborative approach.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/post-tribune/news/ct-ptb-gary-roosevelt-decision-st-0416-20160415-story.html