Indiana education staffer embedded in Gary schools

Indiana Department of Education official now embedded in troubled Gary school district
Posted on Aug. 17, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Aug. 17, 2014 at 3:38 p.m.

GARY, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana Department of Education official now is embedded full-time in the Gary Community School Corp. after the state agency designated the district as “high risk.”

Daniel Bundridge, the agency’s director of school improvement, introduced himself to the Gary school board last week, saying he’s been assigned to the city as the agency’s chief liaison to oversee federally funded programs and increase accountability.

Bundridge told the Post-Tribune (http://bit.ly/1pu9Ck3 ) that because of his former position as an outreach coordinator, he’s already spent many hours working with Gary Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt and her staff.

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz earlier this year designated Gary as a “high risk” district because of nagging financial issues and poor academic scores. As a result, the state agency now manages all of the district’s federal funding and is leading a teacher training program aimed at improving classroom performance.

The district posted the state’s lowest ISTEP Plus scores, according to results released last week. It recently closed five schools in an effort to escape a $27.3 budget deficit. Some vendors and utility bills have gone unpaid, but school officials said the closings and job cuts will keep the district afloat.

School officials have said the 7,800-student Gary district faces a number of serious challenges, including 80 percent of its student body receiving free or reduced-cost lunches.

Information from: Post-Tribune, http://www.post-trib.com

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