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Imagine MASTer Academy is one of three city charters that authorizer Ball State University has declined to renew.

Furthermore …

IU shows way on retirement policy

As Purdue University officials face a discrimination lawsuit over the forced retirement of IPFW Chancellor Michael Wartell, Indiana University officials are demonstrating a more flexible policy for top-level administrators.

That’s apparent from a retirement announcement for IU Southeast Chancellor Sandra Patterson-Randle that emphasizes the university’s willingness to extend her tenure beyond the stated retirement policy.

“IU has been very gracious, first in extending my appointment and now in agreeing to a return to the original retirement timeline,” Patterson-Randles said in a statement.

IU President Michael McRobbie further noted the policy.

“We had hoped to extend Sandra’s appointment by a year, but I respect her decision to leave under the original timeframe and look forward to her return to campus as a faculty member.”

Wartell had requested an extension from the university, but officials proceeded with a search for his successor. His federal lawsuit claims gender discrimination and violation of his constitutional right to due process. He is seeking his former job, back pay and attorney fees.

IU’s approach seems to be the more cost-efficient.

Lawmakers’ no-risk charter school deal

While public school officials nervously wait for results of the General Assembly’s two-year budget, charter schools – including some whose charters have been revoked for poor performance – are in line for a bailout.

House Bill 1001, the budget bill, includes a provision directing the auditor to “repay all of the outstanding principal and interest on any advances made to charter schools from the charter school advancement account established within the common school fund.” It cancels the obligation of charter schools to repay start-up loans they were given to meet operating expenses in the first six months of the school year. Currently, they don’t receive first-year funding until January because schools operate on a calendar-year budget. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said lawmakers were making up for what they should have provided to the charters initially.

But traditional public schools borrowing from the common school fund for building projects, technology or disaster assistance are expected to repay their loans in full.

Of the $80 million budgeted to repay charter-school loans, about $12 million is owed by seven charter schools whose charters have been revoked by authorizer Ball State University. Most received failing marks under the A-F grading system supported by the same lawmakers demanding accountability from public schools.

Kenley, who has expressed concern about the message sent if Indiana doesn’t honor an agreement with mega-retailer Amazon not to collect state sales tax until 2014, is sending a message to potential charter operators that their investments will be risk-free. That’s hardly a level playing field for traditional public school districts, which have been forced to close schools as charters and voucher schools proliferate and pull dollars from existing schools.