Parents Key In Push For Harding Charter School

By John W. Davis

January 25, 2011 Updated Jan 25, 2011 at 6:47 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - "We can do great things in the Harding area," said East Allen County Schools Board Vice President Rev. Stephen Terry, who holds a board seat representing the Harding area.

When questioned, educational experts reveal parent involvement is the key to academic success for students.

EACS Board Vice President Terry said community and parental involvement has been phenomenal since Harding High School was slated to close in 2011, and re-open in 2012 as a College & Career Academy.

Some parents have stood up against busing their students to Leo H.S., New Haven H.S., Woodlan H.S. and Heritage H.S.

"The Governor (Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels) said the same thing in his (State of the State) address that we want to keep from busing students out, keep them in their local community and we really believe as community working together we can come out on top," explained Terry.

Overall, Terry believes parents are engaged and willing to do whatever it takes, to help their children do better in school.

"I believe that sometimes if you don't know the support that's needed you won't rally. But I believe there's a rally, there's a push from the churches, from community members, businesses and we really believe something great is about to happen in the Paul Harding area," said Terry.

Terry has authored a proposal to keep Harding open for Harding students.

He feels East Allen County Schools should sponsor their own charter school, at Harding High School, for current Harding students and neighboring schools.

However, Terry said there is one other possible option on the table.

He said the state can "grandfather in" current Harding students into the proposed Harding College & Career Academy that is slated to open in August 2012.

Right now, current Harding student and next school year's incoming freshmen are banned from re-enrolling at Harding High School any time during their high school careers.

Terry said the next step in creating a Harding charter school, is to begin interviewing charter school management organizations.

Terry wants the groups to be not for profit and have a proven track record of uplifting low-performing schools.

Meanwhile, the community has created an academic mentoring program to raise academic performance for the rest of the current school year.

The goal is to help students "go green," and pass Spring ISTEP tests.

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