Proposals submitted for Ball State sponsorship

Monday deadline leaves about 25 possible charters for university.

With the deadline over, about 25 schools are contending to be in Ball State's first round of charter schools.

Now, President Blaine Brownell, with the help of an advisory panel, will determine by March 15 if any schools will be selected.

"We are only interested in sponsoring charter schools we believe will (work)," said Roy Weaver, the dean of the Teachers College. "You can't risk the university's reputation."

The university will not have to manage the day-to-day operations of those schools it selects. Instead, Weaver said, Ball State will be monitoring them to ensure they uphold the principals of their charters.

Weaver said neither he nor the panel have looked at the applicants yet, so he said he could not comment on the merits of the proposal. Most of them were uploaded onto a Web site late Monday afternoon, and seven have yet to be published.

According to Weaver, however, there are criteria to evaluate the proposals. The panel will review the institution's financial plan, facility, uniqueness and whether it complies with state and federal laws.

Charter schools are public institutions where both students and teachers decide to attend. Charters are more autonomous than their counterparts.

Monday's deadline commences the last lap in a journey that began on Oct. 26, 2001, when Ball State became the first public university in Indiana to decide to sponsor charter schools.

The decision was not well accepted by all. The superintendent of Fort Wayne Community Schools, Thomas Fowler-Finn, initially announced he would not accept any more student teachers from Ball State.

Over time, Fowler-Finn mellowed. In a letter sent to Weaver on Oct. 18, Fowler-Finn said he would accept Ball State student teachers. He asked, though, that they be supervised by Indiana University-Purdue University of Fort Wayne.

"In summation, your supervisors are welcome in our district so long as you are not in direct competition with us, and your students teachers are always welcome," Fowler-Finn wrote.

Weaver said he received Fowler-Finn's request, but he said students who came here paid to be evaluated by Ball State faculty.

"My response was, and still is, people who come to BSU want BSU," he said.

He also said Ball State's student teachers need to be supervised by Ball State faculty.


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