FWCS Restructuring 11 Schools

By Peter Neumann
By Laura Donaldson

June 18, 2010 Updated Jan 29, 2010 at 6:30 PM EST

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) - Fort Wayne Community Schools is transforming the way they teach.

At a news conference Friday morning, school officials named the first 11 schools that will participate in federal Race to the Top program if the school district is approved.

The 11 affected schools are North Side, South Side and Wayne high schools, Kekionga, Miami, And Northwood middle schools, Abbett, Adams, Bloomingdale, Fairfield and South Wayne elementary schools.

What this means for these schools, is, their current programs will be "remodeled." If North Side High School's counseling program excels, administrators will find out what they're doing right and apply it to South Side High School who may struggle with their counseling program. Essentially the schools are becoming more efficient, and taking each school's "pocket of excellence" and applying it to these 11 schools that are "lab schools."

“We have people who are showing success with students who other people aren't being successful with the problem is it's not in every school,” FWCS Superintendent Dr. Wendy Robinson said. “So what we intend to do and what people will see with these 11 schools is a clearer renewed focus on doing the kind of things child by child that will makes sense for that child to achieve.”

School officials say for the other 42 schools that aren’t participating in this program, students will still have a quality education, they're just not lab schools. The other 42 schools will be brought into the program next year.

This program is design to still help every child even if they don't receive Race to the Top money.

The teachers at these 11 schools will have to re-apply for their jobs. Staff will be determined at the end of the year.

Stay with the networks of Indiana’s NewsCenter for the latest on this story.

Read the FWCS Press Release:

Eleven Fort Wayne Community Schools will lead the way in education reform as the district makes comprehensive changes in an effort to ensure all students are educated to high standards.

North Side, South Side and Wayne high schools, Kekionga, Miami and Northwood middle schools and Abbett, Adams, Bloomingdale, Fairfield and South Wayne elementary schools are now designated LEAD
Schools, which stands for Leading Educational Achievement with Distinction, and would be the first in line to receive a portion of the district's Race to the Top funds, if the state is granted
the federal funding.

"We are going to change the way education looks in Fort Wayne, starting with these schools," Superintendent Dr. Wendy Robinson said. "These schools will have the opportunity to implement the best educational practices."

FWCS will continue to follow the federal Turnaround model for the schools, and specific details of the changes to be made at the 11 schools will be released as decisions are made. FWCS and the
Fort Wayne Education Association will meet to determine the process and timeline for staffing the schools. All staffing decisions should be made by the end of the school year to allow staffs time to get to know each other and participate in professional development over the summer.

By the fall, the LEAD Schools will be on track to piecing together the best practices for a successful school as Phase One of the reforms. Phase Two will expand to the remaining schools in the district.

"This process is not intended to create new programs, but instead, to model successful programs already in place in other schools in Fort Wayne Community Schools," Dr. Robinson said.

"We're large enough to have successful examples of everything we want to have in place. We just need to put the pieces together in our LEAD Schools. For instance, we have award-winning PTAs, but not in every building. We have teachers who are highly skilled in analyzing and using data to target specific areas where students need to improve or be challenged further, but not everyone has had enough training in data use. We need to bring all those pieces together and create an environment where staff is excited to come to work and students are excited to learn."

Staffing for the buildings will be based on those who are qualified and eager to take on the challenge of this new endeavor.

"We are not looking for perfection," Dr. Robinson said. "We want people who understand the moral purpose of making sure each child receives a quality education. We want people who see this as a civil rights issue for all children and are excited to be a part of it."

The Fort Wayne Education Association is working closely with FWCS to establish the best environments in the LEAD Schools.

"Our teachers are dedicated professionals who want to do what is best for all boys and girls," FWEA Executive Director Steve Brace said. "We know this won't be easy, but we want to be at the forefront of this nationwide reform and create some of the best schools in the
country."


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