Ball State approves five new public charter schools, including two virtual schools

Topics: Administrative, Teachers College

February 2, 2007

Ball State has approved five new charter schools in Fort Wayne, Muncie, Gary, Indianapolis and LaPorte.

Based upon a recommendation from the university's Office of Charter Schools and after receiving community input at each school's public hearing, Ball State President Jo Ann M. Gora approved the sponsorship of the schools.

"Ball State has long been a leader in the development and promotion of educational innovations and best practices for all public schools, traditional and charter. We are pleased to continue our work with the approval of these five schools, particularly Indiana's first virtual charter schools, which is the next innovation in public education," she said. "Not every child can or will reach his or her potential in a traditional school setting, and virtual charter schools offer parents another public education option to help their children succeed, no matter what their circumstance."

A virtual charter school is defined as a charter school which provides in excess of 50 percent, but less than 100 percent, of instruction to students through virtual distance learning, online technologies or computer based instruction. With the approval of two virtual schools, Indiana now adds to a growing list of approximately 14 other states who currently offer virtual charters. Ball State's complete guidelines and policies for virtual charter schools are available online at www.bsu.edu/teachers/media/pdf/guidelinespoliciesvirtual.pdf.

The five charter schools approved are:

  • Imagine MASTer Academy, Fort Wayne: This school will begin serving students in grades K-6 in the fall and plans to expand its enrollment to grades K-8 by 2011-12. The mission of the school is to provide students with academically sound learning opportunities by offering challenging curricula richly infused with music, arts, science and technology and designed to engage them in the learning process.
  • Indiana Connections Academy, Muncie: This virtual charter school will conduct much of its instruction online and attract students from around the state. With its administrative office located in Muncie, it will begin serving students in grades K-11 in the fall and plans to expand its enrollment to grades K-12 by 2011-12. The mission of the school is to maximize academic achievement for students throughout Indiana who need an alternative to the traditional classroom. Working under the guidance of Indiana certified teachers with whom they interact via technology following a personalized learning plan, students will engage in a rigorous, Indiana standards-aligned curriculum that is rich in print, enhanced by technology and tailored to their individual learning needs.
  • Aspire Charter Academy, Gary: This school will begin serving students in grades K-5 in the fall and plans to expand its enrollment to grades K-8 by 2011-12. The mission of the school is to offer high quality education that emphasizes the learning of core academic knowledge and foundational character values.
  • Indiana Virtual Charter School, Indianapolis: This virtual charter school will conduct much of its instruction online and attract students from around the state. With its administrative office located in Indianapolis, it will begin serving students in grades K-10 in the fall and plans to expand its enrollment to grades K-12 by 2011-12. The mission of the school is to provide an individualized standards-based education for students in Indiana. The school believes parents are integral in the acquisition of knowledge and will work to increase student learning, promote character and provide skill mastery through the use of technology and the K12 curriculum.
  • Renaissance Academy, LaPorte: This school will begin serving students in grades K-8 in the fall and plans to expand its enrollment to grades K-8 by 2011-12. The mission of the school is to help its students reach their greatest potential by providing a supportive community atmosphere with a rigorous academic program based in the Montessori philosophy of education and supported by student exposure to a variety of enrichment classes and extracurricular experiences.
     

"Our sponsorship of these schools demonstrates not only our continued commitment to all Hoosier school children, but also our confidence in the abilities, curriculum and teaching methods of these schools," Gora said. "Each of the schools has presented a clear and compelling educational vision as well as a plan for implementing that vision."

In 2001 the Indiana General Assembly approved legislation allowing four-year public universities, public school districts and the mayor of Indianapolis to sponsor charter schools. Ball State is the only university authorizing charter schools in Indiana, with 19 in operation and six more scheduled to open in the fall of 2007. In addition, Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson's office has 16 charter schools operating in Marion County. As a public charter schools authorizer, Ball State does not run the schools but reserves the right to rescind a charter if a school fails to meet performance standards.

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