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Gary school district develops plan to improve struggling schools, regain control of Roosevelt

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GARY, Indiana — Gary's school district is developing a five-year plan to improve its performance and wants the state not to interfere for five years.

Gary Community Schools Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt and EdisonLearning CEO and President Thom Jackson met Saturday to discuss the plan to be presented to the Indiana Department of Education in January, The (Munster) Times reported (http://bit.ly/1zaUVHn ). EdisonLearning is running the district's Roosevelt High School under a state contract after the Department of Education took it over nearly three years ago.

The district wants to fix its schools without any more state takeovers, regain control over Roosevelt and ensure that it has adequate funding at a time it's only collecting 42 percent of the property taxes it's owed, Pruitt said.

Jackson said he and Pruitt hope the transformation plan will come to be known as the "Gary model" and will be emulated nationally by other districts.

"What Gary is going through is replicated throughout this country in other urban districts," he said. "It's not just Gary. You see, time and time and time again, other urban districts are going through the same thing. What Dr. Pruitt has really seized upon is that the only way you really change this is through a comprehensive sustainable approach focused on all of the students.

The district has made significant cuts and consolidated schools, but still isn't receiving adequate funding to ensure all students have the opportunity to learn, Pruitt said. She has proposed reaching out to successful alumni, creating a development office and soliciting private donations.

Jackson estimated $30 million to $40 million is needed initially so students can learn in safe, well-maintained buildings without peeling paint or broken heating systems.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said the city will back the transformation plan.


Information from: The Times, http://www.thetimesonline.com

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