Snapshot of the indiana public charter school movement
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Snapshot of the Indiana Public Charter School Movement. A CONTRACT between Organizer —nonprofit for educational purposes Authorizer —one of the three entities who have been given the power by the legislature to operate a charter. WHAT IS A CHARTER?. 1. Board of an LEA (school corporation)

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Snapshot of the Indiana Public Charter School Movement

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Snapshot of the Indiana Public Charter School Movement

A CONTRACT between

Organizer—nonprofit for educational purposes

Authorizer—one of the three entities who have been given the power by the legislature to operate a charter


1. Board of an LEA (school corporation)

Who? Lafayette and 2 in Evansville

2. Public university that offers a 4-year

bachelor’s degree program

Who? BSU took risk

3. Mayor’s office of a consolidated city

Who? Mayor of Indianapolis



  • Less than one in five of the black males who start high school in IPS will leave with a diploma.

  • That's low enough to rank IPS 63 out of the 63 largest urban areas in the U.S.


    • Our small rural schools do a good job

    • Smaller is better for students and for teachers

    • Accountability--if a charter school does not meet testing requirements for 4 years, they are closed


Charter Schools Offer

Choice: Increased parent options in choosing a school.

Innovation: Freedom to try new approaches to increase student achievement.

Flexibility: Power to make timely decisions about curriculum, operations, and staff.

Accountability: To authorizer, state DOE and SBOA, elected officials, and parents.

Partnerships: Charters actively develop relationships with parents/community to support student success.

Limitations on employment of children

Firearms and deadly weapons

Health and safety measures

Reporting of student violations of law

Patriotic—student due process & judicial review

Standardized testing (assessment

programs, including remediation

under assessment program)

Parental access to education records

Accountability for school

performance and improvement

Personal financial responsibility


Required audits by the state

Board of accounts

Unified accounting system

Special education

Criminal history

Subject to laws requiring

Regulation by state agencies

Void teacher contract when

Two (2) contracts are signed

Nondiscrimination for teacher

marital status

Teacher freedom of association

School counselor immunity

Compulsory school attendance

Commemorative observances


Exempt from rules or guidelines adopted by the Indiana state board of education

Exempt from rules or guidelines adopted by the professional standards

board with the exception

of teacher licensure


  • Exempt from Indiana statutes applicable to a governing body or school corporation

  • Exempt from local regulations or policies adopted by a school

    corporation unless

    specifically incorporated in

    the charter

Fort Wayne (3)

1,453 students

200+ on waiting lists

Lake County (10)

4,895 students

2,000+ on waiting lists

Indianapolis (22)

8,131 students

1,700+ on waiting lists

Others (21)

3,347 students

300+ on waiting lists

Ball State Schools (33)

Indy Mayor Schools (17)

LEA (3)


Myth: Charter schools can deny enrollment to a student based on special needs or academic reasons.

Fact: As public schools, charter schools must comply with all state and federal laws concerning open enrollment. A charter school may not establish admission policies or limit student admissions in any way in which a traditional public school is not permitted to establish admission policies or limit student admissions.



Myth: We can’t afford more charter schools in this economic climate.

Fact: Since state funding (General Fund) follows the pupil, charter schools have ZERO additional fiscal impact on the state. If a school corporation get $5835 per student to educate a student, then the money follows the child and the charter would get the same $5835 per student.

For county taxpayers, each student attending a charter school saves money, as no local tax dollars (which fund capital projects, debt service, bus replacement and transportation for districts) go to charter schools.

Charters do not have a tax base.



Myth: Charter schools drain resources from traditional public school districts.

Fact: The numbers don’t bear this out: 16 percent of students who leave Indianapolis Public Schools enroll in a charter school.


Recipients of Migration from Indianapolis Public Schools by %

Source: Indiana Department of Education Data (2006/07 to 2007/08)


Myth: Charter schools drain resources from traditional public school districts.

Fact: A 2008 survey of parents with students attending Indianapolis charter schools found that if their charter school ceased to exist, less than one third of the parents would send their student back to a traditional public school.

Other charter school (28%)Magnet school (15%)

Private school (18%)Home school (4%)





Sullivan County, Indiana’s

3rd Public School Corporation

Why did we start RC—first school in Indiana to beat consolidation by default

5 people on local school board decided to “turn off utilities, put plywood on the windows, and abandon the premises”

Abandoning a school who had just received a Four-Star Award for academic excellence to send their 150 kids to a “failing school” with 5 times the enrollment

Leaving another old school building to set and fall down around itself

Leading to the deterioration of the small rural community it served for 100 years

WHY—Rural Community

Who started RC—parents and a proud local community who care about education

Who begged the school board to reconsider

Who did not need an Adult and Continuing Education program

Who started an entire nonprofit corporation, then an entire school corporation from scratch with hiring personnel, creating a unique curriculum, creating policies

Who obtained the decommissioned school building when the community started a nonprofit and got the building as a community center who leases the space to the school

WHO—Rural Community

When did RC start—charter law started in 2003 and RC started in 2004

When we knew we had something was when we had an impact upon how education in Sullivan County has evolved with the other schools becoming better with the increased competition

When parents have a choice in their child’s education

WHEN—Rural Community

Where is RC—Sullivan County, Southwestern Indiana, between Terre Haute and Vincennes on the Illinois border

Where athletic prowlness—or lack thereof—is not the important part but teaching self-confidence is

Where people gather as a community for all kinds of events involving community and school

Where our rural life is preserved

Where all staff is equal and part of the same team

Where these kids will grow up and become our friends, our peers, our co-workers, our neighbors—our relatives

WHERE—Rural Community

What is our Philosophy of Education

Limiting class size to 19—smaller is better

Involving parents with 20 hours per year per family

Developing partnerships with agencies, for profits, non-profits, veterans, fraternal, and educational organizations supplement learning, allowing kids to learn about their community

Utilizing people, places, and things in the community to supplement the curriculum inside and outside the four walls of the classroom (example, Riverwatch)

Giving back to the community in the form of time, talent and treasury

WHAT—Rural Community

WHAT—People, Places, Things

Learning science with community-

built ecosystem and now wetland bog

WHAT—People, Places, Things

Preserving rural

heritage by

learning science

at the farm

with a local farmer

WHAT—People, Places, Things

Learning math,

science and

history in a

local cemetery

WHAT—People, Places, Things

Using a


field to catch,

mark, tag and



WHAT—People, Places, Things


with profit

and nonprofit


WHAT—People, Places, Things

At the creek,

gathering water

samples to

turn into



How are we doing at RC

Have met the federal AYP (No Child Left Behind) every year we have been eligible—PASSED

For the last two years have met the state PL221 with the highest rating for academic excellence of “EXCEEDING STATUS”

Have been recognized by BSU for financial planning, strategic planning, and accountability planning

How we are accountable—if we do not meet testing requirements for four years, we are closed

HOW—Rural Community

Is the school you, your children and your parents and grandparents went to still viable?

Is that important to you or are new buildings and consolidation in the county seat better for education?

If you could design a school from scratch, what would it look like?

Maintaining small rural schools helps the economic development of small rural communities


Russ Simnick, President

407 Fulton St., Suite 301.Indianapolis, IN 46202

317-452-0075 (cell)


  • Susie Pierce, Rural Community Schools

    • PO Box 85, Graysville, IN 47852

    • 812-382-4500



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