Ritz Talks About Expanded State Staffers’ Presence

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August 28, 2013 — Indiana schools chief Glenda Ritz has added an office of the Department of Education staffed by state officials who do almost nothing but site visits to struggling schools.  As StateImpact Indiana’s Kyle Stokes reports, Ritz discussed the changes at a launch event for the newly-created “Outreach Division” in Evansville last night.

By the end of his time in office, former state superintendent Tony Bennett had five staff members who spent four days a week doing nothing but site visits to about 60 schools across the state — schools with high numbers of at-risk kids and low test scores.  Glenda Ritz has added staffers for these visits.  There are now 13 outreach coordinators.  She wants them visiting at least 300 schools, helping with technology, training, grants and community partnerships:

Ritz: “It’s important to have relationships built and to know your schools, to know their school improvement plans forwards and backwards to be able to know what types of supports are already in place and what supports we need to add, too.”

During his time in office, Bennett was known to drive a hard-bargain when it came to turning around a struggling school or district — but even some local school officials praised the sense of urgency he brought to turning around failing schools.  But Ritz has said she wants state officials working with struggling schools earlier and more often, making actions like a state takeover of a school more of a last resort.  For StateImpact Indiana, I’m Kyle Stokes.


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