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Indianapolis pursuing Bloomberg grant to kick start school improvement plan

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Indianapolis city officials are pursuing a $5 million grant as part of The Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge. The city has been selected as one of 20 finalists. The competition is designed to inspire America’s mayors to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard believes the money could help kick start a 10-year plan to turn poor performing schools around.

According to preliminary data released by several area education organizations, 44 percent of kids in Indianapolis are attending schools that are offering a low-quality education.

“You see so many families leaving Indianapolis during the year while their kids are in school. That’s a huge problem,” said John Barth, Indianapolis City-County Councilor.

“We’re moving incrementally better and better all of the time,” said Mayor Greg Ballard.

The goal of the 10-year plan is to get 30,000 kids in high performing schools that are currently falling short. To help make it happen, there is a growing web of partnerships growing between the city, educational institutions, community groups, and area nonprofits, some that would be charged with replicating award-winning schools or getting teachers better prepared.

“The idea of bringing the community together for common educational goals across the county is a good idea, and a big idea. Making it happen is another question,” said Barth.

“We hope to see kids performing at grade level through school, or if they’ve fallen behind, that they’re making up that time,” said Jason Kloth, Indianapolis Deputy Mayor of Education.

The most recent estimates reveal the city will need more than $10 million to get the 10-year plan off the ground in its first year, and at least $108 million over a decade. Kloth said they will be pursuing any and all economic opportunities.

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