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Charter school will appeal Ball State's non-renewal decision

Timothy L. Johnson Academy has joined two other Fort Wayne charter schools that will appeal Ball State University's decision not to renew their charters.

During a meeting Tuesday, the Johnson Academy board voted to allow the school to pursue an appeal.

Board President Mike Nickleson said Johnson Academy has been in constant contact with parents about its decision and the process moving forward.

Ball State announced last week it will not continue authorizing the school's charter, which will expire June 30. The charters of Imagine MASTer Academy and Imagine Schools on Broadway were also not renewed; both schools will also appeal the decision.

Ball State will schedule an appeal hearing before June 30.

Nickleson said the school hopes to have an idea of its future before it dismisses for the summer.

"Hopefully before the end of the school year, we'll have all this information settled," he said.

He said he has received numerous calls from parents volunteering to speak in favor of the school.

Ball State officials cited low proficiency rates on standardized tests and insufficient growth as the main reasons for the decision. Nickleson has said the school's student population has unique challenges that make achieving a high proficiency rate difficult. He said Tuesday the school will emphasize the growth its students have seen during the appeal.

The school's leader, Steve Bollier, told the board the school has been recognized as a "top gainer" for the fifth time by the Indiana School Achievement Institute, a branch of the American School Achievement Institute, for its growing student standardized test scores.

Board member Kelly Updike said the school's growth and not just its performance is important.

"What's been lost in this discussion is the progress our students have made," she said.

Moving forward, an emphasis on progress will be "vitally important," Nickleson said.

"We want to create a life-long learner, not just someone who's passing tests," he said.