New charter school proposed for Hammond – STEAM based
By Lu Ann Franklin Times Correspondent | Posted: Friday, December 9, 2011 12:00 am
HAMMOND | A second charter school could open in the city if the newly formed Indiana Charter School Board gives the green light at a meeting Dec. 19 in Indianapolis.
The STEAM Academy of Hammond at 219 Russell St. would be the first K-8 public charter school in Hammond.
STEAM combines science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM education with art. Mosaica Education of Georgia would manage the school and also provide its Paragon curriculum, an integrated social studies program, according to its application.
STEAM Academy of Hammond Inc. was one of eight proposed charter school groups that made application since the Indiana Charter School Board first met in July, said Claire Fiddian-Green, the board’s executive director.
As part of the application process, Fiddian-Green and two fellow members of the board hosted a public hearing Thursday at the Hammond Civic Center to gather public comments about the proposed school.
Two dozen residents, city of Hammond employees and members of the STEAM Academy of Hammond School Board attended the hearing. All supported the proposed charter school.
“When the lottery for enrollment at our first charter school was held, there were 70 or 80 families who were not chosen for the first sixth-grade class. That shows there is a need in Hammond for more charter schools,” said Phil Taillon, executive director of the Hammond economic development department and one of seven members of the local STEAM school board.
Enrollment in STEAM Academy would be on a first-come, first-served basis rather than a lottery system, Taillon said.
Another board member, Roosevelt Hayward III, said the school “would fill a void for those families seeking an alternative education for their children.
“It’s always good to have a choice. I am convinced that this charter school would be a definite plus for the community.”
Hayward also said he was “impressed with Mosaica Education.”
Mosaica was established in 1997 to operate charter schools in the U.S. and internationally. It runs Frazier Preparatory Academy, a K-8 school, at 4027 W. Grenshaw St. in Chicago.
Tameka Pope told the charter school panel she favors charter schools, but wanted to play devil’s advocate at the hearing.
“Why not reinvest the money in public schools? Where does this leave the public schools?” she asked.
Fiddian-Green said that charter schools are public schools and are subject to the same federal and state regulations.
“The difference is that charter schools have the freedom to use the curriculum of choice and set their own school calendar that includes an extended school day and Saturday classes,” she said.
“In exchange for that freedom, charter schools are held to a higher standard. At our Dec. 19 meeting, the board will adopt its accountability policy.”