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IPS School Gets New Program Over Teacher Union Objection

Project Restore coming to eastside's School 93 this fall
( file photo: Ray Steele)
A failing Indianapolis Public School will get help that its teachers and parents pushed for, but that was fought by the teacher's union.
The IPS Board approved a personnel move Tuesday night that will allow School 93 on the eastside of Indianapolis to become the third to use Project Restore.  School 93, also known as George H. Fisher Elementary School, has received a grade of F from the state each of the past three years.
The school model was created by two teachers from School 99 (Arlington Woods Elementary) and focuses on consistent enforcement of discipline and frequent testing on what is learned in class.  School 99 went from an F to an A within three years of its implementation, though it dropped back to a C last year.  Project Restore was later taken to School 88 - Anna Brochhausen Elementary, which went from an F to and A in one year. 
Two weeks ago, it appeared the expansion of the program to School 93 would be blocked after the Indianapolis Education Association objected to additional administrative pay for Project Restore's creators - Tammy Laughner and Daniel Kriech - while leaving them on the teacher pay scale.  "The personnel who ran the programs went to (former interim IPS Superintendent Peggy) Hinckley to bargain their own contract with the district.  These actions were against the law," said union president Rhondalyn Cornett at the board meeting, adding that she especially objected since IPS teachers haven't had a raise in five years.  Cornett did not return my phone calls from earlier in the day.
Superintendent Lewis Ferebee pushed the program through over the union's objection, giving Laughner and Kriech the titles of Project Restore Coordinators in IPS's Office of Innovation and Transformation, along with the additional pay.  It was one of several personnel moves unanimously passed by the board, relieving the School 93 parents who had pushed for Project Restore.   "As a parent, you can't give up. You can't have a time where you sit down, give up and say 'I'm just going to keep my child in an F school'", said Ashley Thomas, whose son is going into first grade at School 93.  Thomas was one of several parents and teachers who worked with the education advocacy group Stand For Children Indiana to collect the signatures of more than 240 parents and guardians on petitions for the program.
School 93 is one of 11 schools on Ferebee's high priority list because of its poor performance.  Almost nine out of ten students there qualify for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program.
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