Takeover schools ready to start new school year

Manual High School is one of four taken over by private groups.

Some Indianapolis students will return to a different school this fall in the same school buildings. Private groups have taken over four former IPS schools that failed to meet state educational standards.

High school student Carla Cruz is one of more than 2,000 students already enrolled in one of the failing IPS schools the state took over and promised to turn around. She is leaving a private school.

"I didn't like the way they taught, so maybe it might be better here," Cruz said.

Charter Schools USA is running three former IPS schools. Teachers and staff are moving into Manual and Howe Community High Schools, as well as Emma Donnan Middle School. EdPower has taken control of the troublesome Arlington High School.

Over the years, there has been a parade of principals and academic programs through Arlington. All of them failed to turn the school around. The last time, only around 20 percent of students passed either the state-mandated ISTP or End of Course Assessment exams.

"I think we are ready. I know we are ready," said Evan Hawkins with EdPower.

Teaching practices proven successful at its Charles A. Tindley charter school, EdPower plans to put to work in Arlington. Students filling the school's desks will face higher expectations, demanding discipline, longer school days and teachers instilled with an attitude of urgency and resourcefulness.

"If we need to be here on Saturday at 9 p.m., we will be here on Saturday. If we need to be here on Sunday until 9 p.m., we will be here on Sunday, to serve the kids. It's about meeting the kids where they are," Hawkins said.

Students will find new rules, new uniforms, and new schedules inside their old schools. Takeover schools have different start dates: IPS opens August 6, so does Manual, but classes begin a week later at Arlington. It will be a staggered start. The youngest students report on the first day, older students arrive later in the week.

Of the 4,000 children, IPS says about half are transferring to other IPS schools. But with both IPS and the turnaround operators competing for students, numbers will be changing up to and past the first day of classes.