News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

March 12, 2014

Hearing date set for Dugger charter school

Goal to have school open for ’14-’15 academic year

TERRE HAUTE — The Indiana Charter School Board is scheduled to conduct a public hearing on April 8 related to a proposed charter school for the Dugger-Union Community School Corp.

The hearing is set for 5:30 p.m. in the Dugger Community Center, 843 South Hicum St. The purpose is for the state board to collect input on the proposed charter school.

Tom Peeler, DUCSC superintendent, said he expects the state charter school board to vote on the charter proposal on or about April 28. “I’m optimistic,” he said. “It’s a good application. I know we have the capacity to do it; we must communicate that to the charter school board.”

The 294-page Dugger-Union application can be viewed at www.in.gov/icsb.

Peeler expects many people to speak on behalf of the charter proposal. The goal is to have the charter school open and ready in time for the 2014-15 school year “so there is no interruption in service to the kids of Dugger,” he said.

 The new Dugger-Union corporation was formed after the Northeast Sullivan School Board voted in December to close Union High School and Dugger Elementary, which are in adjoining buildings. The NESC board decided to close the schools at the end of the current school year because of budget difficulties and enrollment declines, officials said.

Since then, many in the small community have rallied to keep their children and school in Dugger, through either a charter school or separate public school district.

Residents involved with Save Union High School incorporated with the Secretary of State to form DUCSC. Peeler was named superintendent.

In keeping with state law, Northeast Sullivan School Corp. is taking steps that would make the Dugger/Union facility available to a charter school after the two NESC schools close later this year.

The proposed charter school would operate a K-12 program, and “we are looking at a pre-kindergarten program,” Peeler said. Enrollment in the first year is projected at 260 students.

The Dugger-Union corporation is negotiating support agreements with several groups, businesses and higher education entities, the application says, “to give each student a portfolio of pathways that all lead to college or career preparation.”

During the April 8 public hearing, citizens also will have the opportunity to submit written testimony. Comments also can be sent electronically to charter-applications@icsb.in.gov.

The deadline to email comments is 11:59 p.m. on April 8.  

Ten charter school organizers submitted letters of intent for the spring 2014 application cycle, and four of those submitted completed applications, including Dugger-Union.

Other hearings will be conducted in March and April for proposed charter schools in Bloomington, Muncie and Jeffersonville.

The Indiana Charter School Board was established in 2011 by the Indiana General Assembly. It is a statewide charter school authorizer and an independent state agency.

Its mission is to authorize and hold accountable high-performing charter schools “in which students achieve high levels of growth and graduate prepared for college and careers,” according to an ICSB news release.

Each school authorized by the ICSB “is subject to a transparent and outcomes-oriented accountability system,” according to ICSB.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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