Education & Workforce Development

NEWSMAKER Outspoken White takes charge at IPS:

December 26, 2005

NEWSMAKER Outspoken White takes charge at IPS

Eugene White ruffled more than a few feathers early this year when he publicly called Gov. Mitch Daniels "a liar."

White, then the superintendent of Washington Township schools, didn't care for Daniels' claim that the state's school administrators cared more about building projects than education.

Like him or not, White doesn't mince words. He has a stand-up style that this summer helped him land the job of superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools. The district faces a number of challenges-from finances to declining enrollment to poor test scores and unsatisfactory graduation rates.

White's efforts to improve IPS have important implications for the quality of the local work force as well as the desirability of Marion County as a place to do business.

Supporters say White's just the guy needed to turn around the inner-city school district. While at Washington Township, he chided several hundred black students at North Central High School that they were trailing whites academically and were making excuses for not working hard enough. Graduation rates at the high school have since been on the rise.

In his new job, White, 57, has taken such controversial approaches as proposing to consolidate football teams at a handful of IPS high schools to make them more competitive with affluent suburban schools-and to woo back athletes who left IPS for those schools.

The Alabama native has charged ahead with plans to open additional magnet schools, in hopes of replicating the success of the Key Learning Community at School 87 and other magnets. He also called for turning Attucks and Shortridge back into high schools.

The changes were part of a redistricting plan White proposed in October in response to shifting population.

In 2006, he'll have to grapple with a budget shortfall of $24 million, due in part to rising costs and declining enrollment.


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