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Imagine schools to appeal BSU decision

The boards of both Imagine schools in Fort Wayne have approved resolutions to appeal the decision of Ball State University not to renew the schools’ charters.

The Imagine MASTer Academy board voted Saturday, and the board of Imagine Schools on Broadway approved a resolution Sunday to move forward with an appeal.

Last week Ball State, which authorizes the schools’ charters, announced it would not renew them for three local schools, including the two Imagine schools and Timothy L. Johnson Academy.

The Johnson Academy board is scheduled to meet Tuesday. Board President Mike Nickelson has said the appeal is a high possibility for the school.

After Ball State has been notified of the appeal, the university will have up to 20 business days to schedule a hearing, which must take place before June 30. A three-member panel appointed by Ball State President Jo Ann Gora will make a recommendation to Gora. The decision will be final.

The move to appeal has been discussed as a viable option since the decision was announced, said Imagine on Broadway board President Frank Gallucci.

“We all felt strongly that we need to move forward, that it was in the best interest of the students,” Gallucci said.

He said the school has implemented numerous changes this school year that standardized tests show have made a difference in student achievement.

“We’d hoped that would be taken into account. It wasn’t,” he said during the meeting. “Based on that…we really do need to ask for a reassessment.”

All three schools that did not receive renewals have struggled to show consistent improvement of standardized test scores and fall short of the state average. All also fared poorly under the state Department of Education’s A-F grade accountability system, which is based mostly on standardized test scores.

Ball State officials have said the schools shouldn’t be surprised with the result, based on their data.

But Imagine on Broadway Principal Ra’Chelle Spearman said university officials indicated more than just data would be used in making the decision, particularly the changes made for this year and the success the school has seen.

“Definitely we were lead to believe we had a fighting chance,” she said.

She reported that the school has received overwhelming support from parents. Imagine MASTer Academy parents also came out for a recent meeting vowing to fight to save the school. Imagine on Broadway has scheduled a parent meeting for Monday evening.

After the resolution was passed, board members asked about the possibility of searching for a new authorizer for the school. Gallucci said there’s no plan in place at this time, but that it’s something the school will look into.