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Schools

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Changes in store
A contract with Trine University’s charter authorizing arm Education One was approved Monday by the Timothy L. Johnson Academy board. The agreement includes a laundry list of changes that will be made for the fall.
Accountability. Must achieve a C grade or better in the first year and maintain or improve grade for the remaining three-year contract; add web-based, diagnostic assessments; increase participation in state standardized tests; and achieve an 80 percent satisfaction rating from parent and staff surveys.
•Organizational goals. Reduce class sizes for a maximum of 20 students in kindergarten through third-grade classes and 27 students in grades four through eight. The reduction will require the school to add staff. Extend the school year for students beginning in the 2013-2014 school year; allow time in teacher schedules for collaboration and data analysis; increase classroom teacher accountability with weekly classroom visits from school leader.
•Training. Provide regular training for teachers and quarterly training for school board members on effective governance.
•Student programs. Develop music and art programs with 25 percent of students participating in year one, with a 25 percentage point increase each year following; provide resources for teachers and students to incorporate hands-on science and math activities; increase student access to technology; and provide a secure wireless network at the school.
Source: Trine University and Johnson Academy officials

Johnson Academy OKs deal with Trine

Congratulatory handshakes and hugs were passed around among officials and supporters of Timothy L. Johnson Academy on Monday after the charter school secured a three-year contract with its new authorizer.

A public hearing was held Monday in the school’s gym and none of the nearly 100 people in attendance opposed the new sponsorship from Trine University’s charter authorizing arm Education One LLC. Trine officials submitted a contract for approval by the Johnson Academy board following the hearing. Three members of the five-member board approved the contract, a move that was met with cheers and applause from the parents, volunteers and staff members.

Board President Rev. Mike Nickleson and member Vernon Graham were absent.

The contract, which requires changes at the school for the fall, allows the school to stay open for students next year. Johnson Academy’s former authorizer Ball State University decided to pull the school’s charter citing poor performance and insufficient improvement.

Johnson Academy officials have said the school takes on the city and county’s most disadvantaged students. The school has been looking for a new sponsor that would better support the school’s mission, officials said.

Education One Managing Director David Wood led the contract discussion, highlighting required changes at the school that will be implemented over the summer. He said the biggest piece of the contract is the accountability plan that requires the school to achieve a C grade or better under the state’s A-F grade accountability system. In 2012, the school earned a D grade.

The school must also incorporate additional, online assessment testing and increase participation on the state’s standardized test by at least 5 percent each year. The contract will require the school to survey parents and staff and earn an 80 percent satisfaction rating.

Johnson Academy School Leader Steve Bollier said he believed all the changes could be made this summer within the school’s current budget. He said the school and board reviewed the contract before the board’s vote Monday.

Carrie Drudge, a teacher at the school, said she’s excited about the partnership and glad she’s keeping her job. Drudge said she’s ready to roll up her sleeves to implement the changes, on top of her summer school teaching duties.

“Now we’re thinking about a whole new set of changes. At least this time we will have somebody to help us through,” she said, referring to the partnership with Trine.

Ebonee Pilot, the parent of a Johnson Academy seventh-grade student, was among about 30 people who spoke in favor of the partnership with Trine during the public hearing. She was thankful for the possibility that her son would be able to return to the school, she said.

“It was the best decision I ever made,” Pilot said. “I just love the school.”

sarah.janssen@jg.net

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