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Dr. Peggy Hinckley, Gary schools emergency manager

Governor signs bill to isolate Gary school board, limit employees

Contributed By:The 411 News

Special session takes away local control from school district

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed all 5 bills held over for today’s special legislative session, including House Bill 1315. That bill stripped away the remaining authority the Gary school board held after the 2017 state takeover of the Gary Community School Corporation.

The bill limits Gary school board meetings with the public to one every 3 months instead of the monthly meetings required in the 2017 legislation that turned the district over to the state. The board had no authority to make academic or financial decisions for the school district; although it could make recommendations. Prior to the state takeover, Gary’s school board was the governing body for the district and met 2 times each month. With the governor’s signature today, the board’s May 9 meeting may be its last until the start of school in August.

No longer will Emergency Manager Dr. Peggy Hinckley report to the school board and the public about the academic and financial actions of the management team Gary Schools Recovery LLC.

Each month since August 2017, Dr. Hinckley has informed the board of actions taken to repair and maintain school buildings, that closed a high school, that requested loans from the state, and made decisions to cut staff.

The school board is now an advisory body that will convene quarterly, only to hear reports from the emergency management team.

No longer will the management team report to a fiscal management advisory board to report strategies it will take to resolve the school district’s financial crisis. The 2017 legislation required the emergency management team to consult with Gary’s mayor when preparing the school district’s annual report. HB 1315 removed that also.

HB 1315 also affects the district’s employees. The emergency manager can reduce the size of the certified teaching staff between September 30 and November 1 depending on the number of students in the district. But the reduction of certified teaching staff cannot be greater than 5% of the total full-time employees in the district as of September 1.

Non-certified staff can be laid off at any time.

The bill did return the appointment of vacancies on the school board to be made locally. An earlier version of the bill gave the emergency manager the power to name school board vacancies.

Story Posted:05/14/2018

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