Indiana Public Media 7/6/2011

Indy Charter (Which We So Happen To Be Profiling) Wins $30,000 Grant

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Christel House Academy teacher Jennifer Gillespie assists a student playing a game.

Did you catch this blurb in the Indianapolis Star this morning about charter school Christel House Academy?

A $30,000 grant will help Christel House Academy teachers turn students into better writers. The three-year grant from the McCarthey Dressman Education Foundation will help the academy’s teachers become writing mentors to students.

Coincidentally, StateImpact Indiana visited the school last Friday to conduct interviews and visit classes for a feature we’re working on (look for that coming up next week).

Here’s what caught our attention about this charter school: 95 percent of its 520-or-so students receive free or reduced-price lunch. No other school with that many underprivileged students scored as well on state standardized tests — 71 percent of the school’s students passed the language and math portions of the ISTEP+.

Christel House Academy principal and executive director Carey Dahncke said last week that the school’s annual budget is around $7 million. The lion’s share of that money comes from state and federal support that would go to any public school. 12 percent of their budget money comes from private donations and competitive grants.

“Being a part of the Christel House Foundation, we have access to a grant writer,” Dahncke told us in an interview, adding with a chuckle “…whom we keep very busy.”

By the way, the school gets its name from founder Christel DeHaan, an Indianapolis philanthropist and a noted supporter of “school choice” laws passed in the state legislature this year — laws that expand charter schools’ role in Indiana K-12 education.

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