State School Superintendent Tony Bennett's plan to take over several underperforming Indianapolis Public Schools is raising a lot of questions, but few answers.
Starting next year, Howe, Manual, and Arlington high schools, along with Emma Donnan Middle School, will be taken over by outside operators if the Indiana Department of Education decides to move forward with Bennetts recommendation.
Two others, Broad Ripple and George Washington high schools, will receive technical assistance.
Officials said the takeover would begin in the fall of 2012, if approved.
The companies assigned to handle the proposed takeovers would spend the next nine months preparing for the administration change.
Bennett said the proposed changes were bittersweet.
"I will say there is a part of me that is incredibly saddened," Bennett said.
Bennett's announcement was full of concepts and explanations about why the schools were being taken over, but short on specifics about could be expected to happen next.
Employees at the IDE declined interviews with 6News' Norman Cox
According to documents released by the IDE, Turnaround School Operators "will spend the rest of this academic year evaluating and preparing for more active involvement in the 2012-2013 school year."
Ann Wilkins, president of the Indianapolis Education Association, said she needed a better explanation.
"Will we have people looking over our shoulders? I have no idea," Wilkins said. I know that they are supposed to be coming in to observe this year. What that entails, I have no idea."
Teachers were also concerned about next year, when the law gives the new operators the power to make decisions about which teachers to keep and which teachers to fire. They were also concerned with changes in students transportation.
IPS spokeswoman Mary Louise Bewley gave some insight to teachers concerns.
"As you look at the statute, it says that IPS, not this new company coming in, is in charge of transportation," Bewley said. "So, yes, IPS will have to pay fees for transportation, for maintenance of the facility, a number of dollars that will come directly out of the IPS budget, so that current IPS students will suffer financially."
The budget crunch could unfold in a hostile atmosphere as IPS considers filing a lawsuit against the state if the takeover is approved.
IPS Superintendent Eugene White is in staunch opposition to the states proposed takeover.
"We think that our kids are being treated unfairly," White said. "All summer they have been, if you will, denigrated."
Some educators are also questioning the qualifications of Charter Schools USA to operate a high school and whether they've done that before.
According to the companys website, it operates high schools in Florida.
Many parents questioned if they will be able to opt out of the new school arrangement.
Officials said that opting out would be a possibility, but that the students wouldnt likely be able to attend another IPS high school because most of them are being taken over.
The students would have the option of attending a charter school, applying for a state voucher, going to a private school, or going to a public school in another district, if that district would accept them.
The State Board of Education will vote whether to approve the Bennett take-over plan on Monday.
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