IPS board gives blessing to house Global Prep charter school

Superintendent Lewis Ferebee got the go-ahead tonight from the Indianapolis Public School Board to negotiate a deal with charter school developer Mariama Carson to place the dual-language immersion school she plans to open next year in an IPS building.

Carson, the former Pike Township principal and wife of U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, D-Indianapolis, won a $250,000 “education entrepreneur” fellowship from The Mind Trust to design the Global Prep Academy and already has approval to open a charter school from Mayor Greg Ballard’s office.

Her plan calls for a K-8 school for 220 students on in the Lafayette Square neighborhood on the city’s northwest side. She pitched the idea of housing the school in an IPS building to the board in July.

Ferebee said Carson and the district must still determine where the school would go and work out a contract. The closest school to the area Carson prefers is School 79, which has been rated an A for five straight years, but both Carson and Ferebee want Global Prep to take over a building that has low test scores or has shown little progress.

Carson’s plan for the school is that it will serve roughly equal numbers of native English and Spanish speakers in grades K-8, but starting out with grades K-2. Students would be taught in English for part of the day and Spanish the other part.

IPS currently has a high-scoring Spanish immersion school, School 74, on the city’s east side.

Global Prep would be another “innovation network school,” a type of unique partnership the legislature approved in 2014.

In July, district officials said Carson could apply to be part of the innovation network in October and the board would decide what new schools would join the network in January. But after another presentation by Carson tonight, the five board members in attendance — Sam Odle, Kelly Bentley, Mary Ann Sullivan, Diane Arnold and LaNier Echols — agreed to Ferebee’s request to move forward to negotiations right away. Board member Gayle Cosby was absent.

The board expects to fill the open seat, created when Caitlin Hannon resigned, later this week.

Carson’s idea was featured in Chalkbeat’s recent series about English language learning, Lost in Translation, in a story from its reporting partner, WFYI Publc Media. She said innovative schools like Global Prep are needed to serve Indianapolis’ fast-growing Hispanic community.