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Last updated: Wed. Jan. 23, 2013 - 09:22 am EDT

Parents look for bearings after schools lose contracts

Parent meetings

Imagine Schools will conduct parent meetings to discuss Ball State University’s decision and the next steps for Imagine Schools:

•Imagine MASTer Academy will have a parent meeting from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday.

•Imagine Schools on Broadway will have a parent meeting from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday.

Twisted up in Blake Portee’s hand as he left his classroom Tuesday was a letter from school leaders explaining that soon he might need to find a new place to learn.

“My teacher gave me this paper,” the Imagine MASTer Academy fifth-grader said. “She said it was very important that I give it to my parents.”

Blake said he read the paper while in class and learned that the school he’d attended for the past five years could be closing at the end of June.

Ball State University announced Thursday that three Fort Wayne charter schools – Imagine MASTer, Imagine Schools on Broadway and Timothy L. Johnson Academy – will not be renewed when their contracts expire June 30.

All three schools have the option to appeal Ball State’s decision or can seek a different charter sponsor. If the decision is reversed or another sponsor agrees to take over, the schools could remain open.

But that sense of unknown seemed to displease some parents Tuesday.

“I’m very disappointed,” said Blake’s father, Elmo Portee Sr. “We’re going to have to do some quick thinking for that next step. We’ll have to find somewhere else for him to go.”

Portee said he’d look into private schools or another charter school but would likely avoid the city’s public schools.

“He’s done well here,” Portee said, glancing at his son. “We’ve been very satisfied with the education he’s getting.”

Stanley Gurnoe waited in his truck outside Timothy L. Johnson Academy as his 10-year-old grandson made his way to the vehicle after school Tuesday.

By 3 p.m., Gurnoe hadn’t heard the news that his grandson’s school could close.

“I’m so surprised,” he said. “We came for this Christmas program just a few weeks ago and they told us the (enrollment) was growing. We thought things were OK.”

Gurnoe said his grandson, who is in fourth grade, has attended the academy for three years. His family made the decision to have him attend the academy primarily because it was close to home and seemed to be a better fit than the city’s public schools, Gurnoe said.

Now, they’ll need to spend some time thinking about what’s next for him, he said.

“We’ll have to send him to a private school, I think,” Gurnoe said. “It won’t be a public school, I can tell you that.”

Parents at Imagine Schools on Broadway and Imagine MASTer Academy received calls Tuesday informing them of Ball State’s decision, school officials said.

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