IBJNews

Ball State gives new life to Fountain Square charter

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Fountain Square Academy, a charter middle and high school with about 270 students, has been given a reprieve after Ball State University decided to grant it a charter to continue operating after this school year.

But the not-for-profit that founded and managed the school, Indianapolis-based GEO Foundation, will be removed as operator of the school.

Ball State took the same action in February with Fall Creek Academy, another charter school started and operated by GEO. Both schools got a three-year charter, the minimum allowed by state law.

The decisions by Bob Marra, executive director of the city's office of charter schools, reverses a decision he made in December not to grant a charter to the two schools.

The schools so far have been overseen by the mayor of Indianapolis’ charter schools office. But they applied to Ball State for new charters after Mayor Greg Ballard ordered the Fountain Square Academy to close at the end of this school year.

“Fountain Square Academy has not lived up to the performance standards for multiple years,” Ballard said in March of 2011. “Charters that do not meet the criteria should not be permitted to operate.”

The decision to close Fountain Square marked the first time Ballard chose to shut down a charter school. It was also the first time a charter school in Indiana faced closure primarily for academic reasons.

Since then, Fountain Square’s academic performance has increased greatly. It ended the 2011 school year with a graduation rate of 93 percent.

That improvement gave Marra confidence to keep Fountain Square open by granting a new charter. But he made the removal of GEO a condition for both Fountain Square and Fall Creek gaining a new charter.

GEO will remain the employer of the schools’ staff members and the back-office operator for the next school year, but will be entirely displaced afterward.

Instead, the Indianapolis Challenge Foundation, which operates an Indianapolis charter school called Challenge Academy, will provide “academic support” to the board of directors that oversees both Fountain Square and Fall Creek academies.

Also, Challenge Foundation’s Gene Zink has joined the board of the Fall Creek and Fountain Square academies.

The board is chaired by Rollie Dick, the former chief financial officer of Carmel-based Conseco Inc. He did not return a phone call by IBJ’s deadline for this story.

Marra said Ballard’s office expressed concerns about having GEO Foundation continue to be involved in the schools. One key issue was that in 2011, GEO Foundation dismissed the board overseeing Fountain Square and Fall Creek academies.

The schools’ founding documents—approved by the Indianapolis Mayor’s Office—gave GEO that power; however, Marra added, the school operator shouldn't have been able to dismiss the board.

“We made that a condition, that they not be involved, because of the issues that we listened to [from] the Mayor’s Office,” Marra said. “It wasn’t anything illegal what GEO did, but removing the board members gave them some concerns.”

Kevin Teasley, president of the GEO Foundation, said that after Ball State declined to give charters to Fountain Square and Fall Creek in December, he actually suggested that GEO end its work with the school, in order to help the schools stay open.

“Our only concern has been that the two schools continue to serve the communities that they serve, because they are much needed,” Teasley said. “And we are pleased that Ball State has approved the charters for the two schools.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Those of you yelling to deport them all should at least understand that the law allows minors (if not from a bordering country) to argue for asylum. If you don't like the law, you can petition Congress to change it. But you can't blindly scream that they all need to be deported now, unless you want your government to just decide which laws to follow and which to ignore.

  2. 52,000 children in a country with a population of nearly 300 million is decimal dust or a nano-amount of people that can be easily absorbed. In addition, the flow of children from central American countries is decreasing. BL - the country can easily absorb these children while at the same time trying to discourage more children from coming. There is tension between economic concerns and the values of Judeo-Christian believers. But, I cannot see how the economic argument can stand up against the values of the believers, which most people in this country espouse (but perhaps don't practice). The Governor, who is an alleged religious man and a family man, seems to favor the economic argument; I do not see how his position is tenable under the circumstances. Yes, this is a complicated situation made worse by politics but....these are helpless children without parents and many want to simply "ship" them back to who knows where. Where are our Hoosier hearts? I thought the term Hoosier was synonymous with hospitable.

  3. Illegal aliens. Not undocumented workers (too young anyway). I note that this article never uses the word illegal and calls them immigrants. Being married to a naturalized citizen, these people are criminals and need to be deported as soon as humanly possible. The border needs to be closed NOW.

  4. Send them back NOW.

  5. deport now

ADVERTISEMENT