As we’ve reported, critics have leveled an array of criticisms against the Common Core — some don’t like the standards’ continued emphasis on testing, some fear federal intrusion in state education policy.
Superintendent Jon Willman, right, and members of the Hamilton Community School Board take questions about a proposed tax levy increase during a public meeting ahead of the November 2012 election. The referendum passed with 74 percent of the vote.
Less than a quarter of Indiana school corporations have pursued a referendum in the five years since the state legislature changed the way districts can levy taxes for construction and operating expenses.
John Rice, a math teacher at Schmucker Middle School in Mishawaka, talks students in his eighth grade Algebra I class through a set of homework problems. Students in this class will take the Algebra I End of Course Assessment this year.
Indiana law requires all students to take two exams to earn a full high school diploma, and Britton Sofhauser has already taken one of them: the Algebra I End-of-Course Assessment.
Most students see the Algebra I “ECA” for the first time in ninth grade. Sofhauser passed it — easily — when he was in seventh grade.
“[My teacher] made it sound like the hardest test ever, but I think that was just so we’d study more,” says Sofhauser, now an eighth grader at Schmucker Middle School in Mishawaka.
Though Sofhauser takes advanced math classes, he’s hardly an exception.
The [Louisiana] judges’ decision appears to make it particularly hard for the program to be revived by the legislature, as it will probably require a separate funding source, banning lawmakers from redirecting state per pupil aid from school districts that students use voucher to leave in favor of private schools.
This is about as far off the recent Indiana Supreme Court decision, which upheld a similar program here a little over a month ago, as the court could have gone.
For Indiana, it’s significant because it likely leaves the Hoosier state standing alone as the prime example of a very wide-ranging voucher program. Continue Reading →
Five of the seven Indiana school corporations asking for tax levy increases succeeded in Tuesday's special election.
Four more votes — that’s all it would have taken to tie a close election in Porter County Tuesday night. The Metropolitan School District of Boone Township asked voters to approve a 23-cent tax levy increase per $100 of assessed valuation: 543 said yes, 547 said no.
Boone Township already has one of the highest tax rates in the state. But it hasn’t been enough to make up a shortfall in state funding.
“Once again, funding for education depends on where you live,” says Superintendent George Letz. “I don’t know why the legislature does not ever get that point across that there’s still unequal funding in the school districts of Indiana.”
Like many Indiana schools built in the 1950s and 60s, Snider High School in Fort Wayne wasn't built with security in mind. The school is getting a newer, safer entrance as part of a district-wide building project.
If voters in Starke County approve a 28-cent tax levy increase Tuesday, students at Knox Elementary will get a new wing — and the district will get a safer, more secure administrative office.
“Right now the superintendent’s office is located in the middle of the school,” says Knox Superintendent A.J. Gappa. “With all the school safety concerns, having the superintendent’s office in the middle of the elementary is not an ideal location.”
The district isn’t pitching its referendum as a school security upgrade — Gappa says the portion of the elementary flagged for replacement was built in the 1950s and is now out-of-date — but add Knox to a growing list of school corporations using construction referenda to rebuild with safety in mind. Continue Reading →
Carpe Diem Indiana announced Monday that opening the Fort Wayne campus, Carpe Diem-Summit, will be postponed because of delays in finalizing a lease agreement. Despite the delays, the school still hopes to locate at The Summit, a building on the former Taylor University campus, at 1025 W. Rudisill Blvd.
Carpe Diem-Summit was approved to model Carpe Diem-Meridian located in Indianapolis. The school would be run by Carpe Diem Learning Systems, an education management company based in Arizona. The Indiana Charter School Board approved the application for the Fort Wayne campus earlier this year with one key condition.
The school serving grades six through 12 was to show evidence by July 15 that its enrollment would fall between its break-even point and its goal of 130 students for the first year. The break-even number would likely be about 100 students. Continue Reading →
Emily Kitchen graduated just one year ago from Indiana University in Bloomington but has already applied to more than 60 job openings without landing more than a temporary position at a trade association in Washington, D.C.
“It’s hard after a long day to come home and apply to jobs,” says Kitchen. “They say that applying to jobs is a job in itself, and it’s true. It can get very discouraging and disheartening very quickly.” Continue Reading →
Facilities Manager Darren Hess and Snider High School Principal Deborah Watson explain Fort Wayne Community Schools' plan to renovate 36 buildings.
As a rule of thumb, for every ten cents a school corporation asks for when proposing a tax levy increase, it knocks a percentage point off the number of voters supporting the referendum.
“In a close election, that could make the difference,” says Purdue agricultural economist Larry DeBoer. “Though most of these elections haven’t been that close.”
Before 2008, Indiana school corporations could levy up to $2 million without asking for taxpayer approval. But changes to how schools are funded have sent an increasing number of districts to the ballot box in the last five years. Only 16 of the 40 districts that have pursued major construction projects have succeeded.
That has DeBoer and others who study school finance curious about the future of facilities maintenance in Indiana schools.
“Will it be the case that some school corporations find that they can pass the referendum and therefore they can keep their facilities up to date and have new buildings and better facilities,” he says, “while other school corporations perhaps cannot?” Continue Reading →
In response to a question from StateImpact during a speech to the Education Writers Association, Duncan suggested this week’s glitches in Indiana, Oklahoma and Minnesota represent a learning opportunity. Here’s what he said:
We should have competition. We should be transparent — I don’t know who that company is, I don’t want to pre-judge — but if that company can’t deliver, there’s an opportuntiy for someone else to come in and do something very, very different… We should not have one problem and then say we should go all the way back to pencil and paper, that doesn’t make sense to me. Continue Reading →
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