Greg Fleming chats with Supt. Yvonne Stokes

Supt. Stokes lays out her vision for Gary schools

Contributed By: The 411 News

Distressed Unit Appeal Board coming to Gary for vote on ending state takeover

Tuesday evening at the Gary Career Center, balloons and a buffet welcomed guests to a meet and greet reception for the Gary Community School Corporation’s new superintendent. At the Gary Schools Advisory Board’s special meeting on Friday, June 7th, the board voted 5-0 to award Dr. Yvonne Stokes a 3-year contract.

Although Stokes official start date is not until July 1, the new superintendent wanted the community to hear her vision for the school district as it returns to local control under the school board and the new district leadership. GCSC has been under state control since 2017 and that is scheduled to end on July 1.

The Distressed Unit Appeal Board (DUAB), the state agency that manages the district, is coming to Gary for a June 17th meeting at the Career Center. The board will consider a petition to terminate GCSC's status as a distressed political subdivision, thus ending state control.

Supt. Stokes laid out 4 priorities in a presentation, that she said, “… is an effort to create a robust school district, meeting the greater needs of the Gary community.” None are more important than the others, Stokes said.

Leadership and governance is a priority for Stokes because it promotes an environment where children, staff, and families thrive.

It’s the foundation for building collaboration and relationships between all stakeholders – parents, students, teachers, staff, administrators, board members, community members, city representatives, and business partners. “We can't even move to good teaching and learning without actually having a foundation,” Stokes said

Fiscal management, financial and operational sustainability is the next priority.

The district is in a new era with a stable financial future and long-range plans to pay teacher salaries and provide for student transportation, student meals and student support, Stokes said.

An objective outside of those areas is early literacy for grades K-3.

Results from the 2022-2023 Indiana Reading Evaluation and Determination (IREAD-3) assessment test for the Gary school district showed that only 186 of the district’s 394 third graders passed.

“First and foremost, we have to focus on early literacy. We have to make sure that our children can read. It is absolutely a disservice to our students if they can't,” Stokes said. “This is a priority for money management because we need to focus some dollars around making sure that our children can read.”

Stoke’s third priority is community relations and engagement.

The district is looking for community members to fill several positions that support staff, students and parents in ways that support academic, social, emotional safety, and well being.

“There's a position that's open online, and I ask you to go look at it and see if that picture is your face for that particular position,” Stokes said.

“We want to make sure that we are having sessions for parents,” Stokes said. “I envision us having a Gary Academy, Gary Moving Forward, Gary on the Move, whatever you want to call it. But what it is, it's a seven session program where we put out links for parents who want to be a part of a once every month program where they learn about the school district.”

Academic accountability is Stokes final priority. The objective is every child is on track to graduate, ready for employment, enrollment, enlistment or entrepreneurship.

“It will take all of us to achieve those outcomes,” Stokes said. Parents have to make sure their students are in school and have to be involved in their learning. There has to be high quality teaching and learning.

Stokes said, “The priority subject area here is English, Language Arts and Math, but we’re going to start with English and Language Arts, first.”

Results from the state’s 2023 Spring ILEARN test, which assesses English, Language Arts and Math skills in grades 3-8, show that 1705 Gary school district students were tested, but only 38 were proficient in all areas.

Results for the English and Language Arts portion showed that 1,722 Gary school district students were tested, but only 161 were proficient.

Story Posted:06/13/2024

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