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The week ahead
East Allen County Schools board: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Administration Building, 1240 Indiana 930 East, New Haven

Easy decision for EACS

Second graders of the Timothy L. Johnson Academy attend the first day of school in August 2012.
Courtesy photo

Whether or not one agrees with Indiana’s policy of inefficiently diverting money from traditional public schools to charter schools, the fact that the East Allen County Schools board is even discussing issuing a charter to the Timothy L. Johnson Academy is appalling.

In its 11 years of operation in Fort Wayne, the Johnson Academy’s test scores have never demonstrated that the school has achieved its promise of improving students’ education. Ball State University officials decided this year to tolerate the poor test scores no longer and revoked the academy’s charter.

Common sense dictates that the school should close. The national group of charter school authorizers agrees. But now the academy is seeking to find another authorizer to issue a charter.

While state law allows traditional public school districts to issue charters, few have. And given that East Allen already has a number of difficult issues to address – not the least of which is completing a controversial district reorganization as well as finding a new superintendent – the district has no business taking on a troubled charter school.

If those reasons weren’t enough, EACS board member Stephen Terry is also a Johnson Academy employee, creating a giant conflict of interest that would taint any relationship between EACS and the charter school.

Tuesday’s discussion should be a short one, and members should reject the request outright.

Ag-gag and guns

Hoosier lawmakers will again take up two of the most controversial bills before the General Assembly today in committee sessions.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will discuss Senate Bill 373 – nicknamed the “ag-gag” bill. The panel isn’t expected to defeat the bill – which it should – but is expected to remove some of its most noxious provisions. As written, the bill would make it a crime to take photos on a farm without permission from the owner.

The House Ways and Means Committee will consider Senate Bill 1, which the House Education Committee amended last week to require a gun in every public school. The Ways and Means Committee will hear it because it also would partially reimburse schools for the expenses of hiring police officers for schools, though not nearly enough money for an officer to be in every school. Several noted political leaders – including Gov. Mike Pence, Senate President Pro Tem David Long of Fort Wayne and state schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz – all believe local districts should make the decision about having someone with a gun in each school.

Home opener

The TinCaps play their fifth-season home opener Thursday at Parkview Field, one of the city’s best entertainment venues as well as one of the nation’s best minor league ballparks.

Fans will find some changes this year, starting with the building being constructed just above and past center field. The 400 Club will be a restaurant offering a buffet and clear views of the stadium through floor-to-ceiling glass windows. It opens in mid-May.

Just behind it, fans will see new residents on their balconies of The Harrison, the recently opened commercial-office-residential complex.

That complex obscures the once-clear view of Parkview Field’s scoreboard and electronic sign for eastbound motorists on Jefferson Boulevard. To compensate, the TinCaps put up a new video sign at the intersection of Jefferson and Ewing Street. The sign will be near a new, west entrance to the ballpark.

As a home opener bonus, the team will give away all of the red jerseys worn in Sunday games from each player ever to play for the team since its debut season in 2009. And one of those winners will take home $5,000. Post-game fireworks will top off the festivities.

More guns

Indiana Sens. Dan Coats and Joe Donnelly are expected to get some nationwide attention after the U.S. Senate reconvenes Tuesday following a two-week spring break. They are considered to be among 15 swing votes on the bill to require background checks for buyers of all guns, not just those purchased in stores.

The bill would have the biggest effect on gun shows. Licensed dealers who attend the shows are required to conduct the check, but gun owners who lack a dealer’s license can sell their wares to virtually anyone, regardless of their criminal or mental health history. Opponents of the bill misleadingly describe such gun show sales as a simple transaction allowing someone to sell an unwanted gun. But in fact, many sellers at such shows have large inventories.

The vast majority of Americans support universal background checks. So should Coats and Donnelly.

Feed the meter

If you park in metered spaces downtown, expect to start paying more beginning today. The rate doubles from 25 cents to 50 cents per hour, though city officials say the 50-cent rate is still a bargain compared to other cities. Fines for parking at an expired meter will also double, from $5 to $10, and will increase to $20 if not paid within 30 days.