President of Options Schools – Mike Gustin’s Blog

  • The Current features Options on Westfield cover

    The following article was featured as the cover story in the August 4, 2020 edition of The Current in Westfield. The full Aug. 4 publication of The Current can be found here.

    Another way to learn: Alternative learning provides avenues for struggling students

    By Anna Skinner

    Options Charter School CEO Mike Gustin doesn’t advocate a one-size-fits-all approach to alternative learning.

    “Alternative programming is like any other consumer item you would go out and purchase and try to access,” he said. “There’s options and choices, and what we do in Indiana is, there’s a difference in Indiana coding between an alternative school and an alternative program.

    “They serve uniquely different purposes within the alternative spectrum of student.”

    Although Westfield Washington Schools is refining a new alternative program, Gustin said there’s still a need for Options, and vice versa. Options Charter School broke ground on its Westfield campus last month at the northwest quadrant of Gunther Boulevard and Ind. 32.

    “So within alternative programming, and we are aware Westfield Washington Schools is ramping up some alternative programming, is they focus their programming on one or two types of students, but they don’t provide programming across the bandwidth of alternative learning that might suite the needs of all alternative kids facing challenges,” Gustin said.

    Gustin said Options Charter School works with local superintendents about ways to keep students enrolled in the district.

    “If (students) have something in their school like a co-curricular or extracurricular activity, or if the student has a positive adult relationship, that is a hook for that kid to stay in school and perform well, even though they may temporarily be going through some difficult times,” Gustin said. “That student should stay in school and attend that programming if it’s designed to meet their need.

    “We step into the void when things are absent, when the student doesn’t feel connected to school or the community or has no real connection to the people or programming there.”

    If a student is connected with their district through clubs, relationships or sports, they generally see success within the alternative programming, whereas when those connections aren’t present, the student can feel disconnected in the district and may be better suited for something like Options.

    “To me, the biggest difference really is that when a student is a Westfield student, there are so many different resources we have available in the entire district,” WWS Supt. Sherry Grate Said. “The whole idea is that we are trying to create the best academic experience we can for students and provide a wrap-around, so if a student can stay and we can provide all of those resources to help them be successful, then that’s a huge success.

    “Options is a great partner for us. It’s finding out what’s the best fit for each student, and the more we can keep our students in the Westfield school system by meeting their needs, the better off they are.”

    Connor Reiff completes his Options Charter School assignments at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted photo)

    An Options Charter School example

    Noblesville resident Connor Reiff benefits from Options Charter School education because the alternative learning school is flexible when it comes to Reiff’s medical needs.

    “I have to travel to Stanford (University) for treatment and Southern California for clinical trials to help with my sleep disorders, and (Options) continues to be accommodating over the three years I’ve been there,” said Reiff, 16. “Those three chronic illnesses have kind of affected everybody in my family, and Options accommodated my sister, who sometimes had to fly with us out to Stanford.” 

     

     

    About Options Schools
    Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

     

  • Small Groundbreaking Ceremony held for Options-Westfield

    On Tuesday, July 28, a small ceremony was held to mark the groundbreaking of the Options-Westfield campus. In attendance were select members of the Options Executive Team, Options Founders, Options School Board, SA Berg Company, Axis Architecture and the City of Westfield.

    One of three speakers at the event, Options President/CEO Dr. Mike Gustin spoke passionately about the project and shared the following words. “A new building for Options Schools has been a part of our plan since 2014. It’s not just a building, it’s trust that the parents know we will give their kids the very best & trust from the kids in the faculty. This project is all about fulfilling a promise of trust & hope.“

    About Options Schools
    Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

     

     

  • Options Shares Operational Plan

    View Options Schools’ Operational Plan (PDF)

    Options Families & Staff,

    As we approach the start of another school year, we have developed an Operational Plan that allows for adaptations to the number and how often students participate in-person versus virtually in order to be able to adapt as the situation changes regarding COVID-19. We are looking forward to beginning the fall semester on Wednesday, August 5 in Stage 4 of the Options Operational Plan.

    As we continue to work together to get our students back in school safely, we ask that you continue to keep open lines of communication with us and help support and encourage your students to attend, in their selected platform, each day. Attendance is one of the most important components to ensure students are able to continue to learn and do not fall behind. Opening schools during a pandemic requires all of us to be flexible and considerate of each other, and please keep in mind that guidance from state and local authorities can change quickly in this environment.

    Principals will be sending out additional information to families in the coming weeks on plans for Chromebook pick up, schedules, drop-off, arrival, and other program-specific protocols.

    Parents/students have many choices within the Options programs. Please speak directly with your Principal to make any changes to your program option:

      • Brick and Mortar Campuses (Carmel, Noblesville, BACA and Growing Minds) will offer in person and remote options in their day programs. Carmel and Noblesville will continue to offer evening programing with both in person and remote options.
      • Options @ HYCA will continue to operate in person, on site at the Hoosier Youth ChalleNGe Academy and will serve all cadets choosing the high school credit option.
      • Options Indiana (Distance Education) will continue to provide virtual, alternative programing designed to best serve students that need to work on fewer classes at a time and at their own pace. This may be the best program for students/families needing an asynchronous option.

     

    About Options Schools
    Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

     

     

  • A Letter to Options Families (June Update)

    The following email was distributed to parents/guardians, students & additional members of the Options family the week of June 15, 2020

    Options Families –

    We hope this email finds you and your families well and enjoying some of this beautiful summer weather we are having in Indiana! It was such a strange and emotional ending to the school year, but we are all working on getting the necessary rest and relaxation to be ready for a new school year come August. We hope your students are as well.

    As you know, COVID-19 school re-entry guidance plans from the CDC, County Health Departments, and the Indiana Department of Education are very fluid right now.  As of today, we are planning to open on time, August 5, 2020, for all programs in-person and virtual.  Student and staff safety are being considered to the highest level as well as the need for everyone to return to some normalcy in their educational platform in order to further develop the strong relationships that make up the backbone of the Options’ educational platform of Belong. Believe. Achieve.  Our teams are taking into consideration the academic and social-emotional needs of our students as we prepare the curriculum for the fall as well.  We are working to provide even smaller group settings than in the traditional model and limit cross exposure yet still allow students the opportunity to return to in-person classes with virtual options for families that need them. The many factors associated with starting school are being discussed and will be shared with families as soon as decisions have been finalized.

    We know you may have specific questions about safety precautions we’ll be taking and what the school day will look like. We’re currently drafting a comprehensive return-to-school plan with input from the various regulatory agencies and will have it ready to share with you mid-July.

    We know this is an unprecedented time and the Options family feels very fortunate to have strong in-person and virtual programming as well as small class sizes, evening programs, special-focused programs, and the most amazing team of teachers, counselors, and administrators working to serve our families in unique and specific ways.  Even before the pandemic, Options has made it our mission to serve every student and every family with strong educational programs that meet their needs exactly where they are and are able to adapt as the student’s needs adapt. We will continue to provide flexible programming as we all navigate our way to the new normal.

    As always, word of mouth is our number one way of sharing with others about our programs. Below is a list of open programs for August 20/21. More information is available on our website. All programs have open seats at the moment, but are filling quickly.

    For more information, visit OptionsSchools.org

    • Options Carmel – daytime and evening programming available grades 6-12
    • Options Noblesville – daytime and evening programming available grades 6-12
    • Options Indiana – virtual programming only, grades 6-12
    • Options @ BACA – located on-site at BACA of Fishers, serves students in grades 6-12 who need part-day ABA therapy and part-day school
    • Options @ HYCA – located on-site at the Hoosier Youth ChalleNGe Academy in Knightstown, IN, serves grades 9-12 who are seeking high school credits/graduation and are participating in the HYCA 22-week program
    • Options @ Growing Minds – located on-site at the Growing Minds campuses in Ft. Wayne, IN and Columbia City, IN, serves grades 6-12 in need of therapeutic support alongside education

     

    About Options Schools
    Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

     

  • New Principals & Exciting News for Options @ BACA

    NOBLESVILLE – With the 2019-20 school year complete, Options Schools has announced the appointment of three experienced team members to the role of Principal for Options Schools programs, in addition to the growth of another program.

    Melanie Martin-Terrell will serve as Principal of Options-Noblesville, Adam Barr will serve as Principal of Options @ HYCA and Beth Hodges will serve as Principal of Options @ Growing Minds.

    Martin-Terrell first joined the Options team in September 2007 and has most recently served as Counselor at Options-Carmel since 2018, having dedicated over a decade as a member of the Options team. Barr will transition from Options-Noblesville Principal, to that of Options @ HYCA, and has been on the Options team since 2016. After having held the teacher role with Options @ Growing Minds since early in the 2019-20 school year, Hodges previously served as Director Education for Growing Minds.

    After a successful first year as a pilot program that served 11 students in 2019-20, Options @ BACA had its’ ‘pilot’ tag removed and will provide up to 24 seats for students in 2020-21. With over a decade of experience in alternative education and a member of the Options team since Feb. 2019, Lisa Chandler will continue to lead Options @ BACA as the Program Director.

     

    About Options Schools
    Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

    Options @ HYCA is a partnership between Options Schools and the Indiana National Guard Hoosier Youth ChalleNGe Academy in order to provide students with an opportunity to continue progressing towards their high school diploma. Options @ HYCA students are able to continue to earn credits towards their high school diploma while attending HYCA in Knightstown, IN.

    The Options @ Growing Minds program is a hybrid school model for students in grades 6-12 located in and around Ft. Wayne and Columbia City, IN (Allen County). Options @ Growing Minds offers students the relationship-based educational approach unique to the Options schools partnered with the wrap-around services Growing Minds offers its clients.

     

  • 2020 Options Commencement Ceremony

    This video is a celebration & recognition of the Options Schools Class of 2020! This Commencement Ceremony was streamed on Facebook Live on Wednesday, May 27, 2020.


    As a send-off to the Class of 2020, the Options Team shared in there reading of ‘Oh The Places You’ll Go’ by Dr. Seuss.


    About Options Schools
    Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

     

     

  • Options Schools Announces Graduation Plans

    As regulations around the state will prohibit Options Schools from holding a traditional Graduation ceremony at the Ritz Charles in Carmel, this year’s Graduation is going online for an event that will be streamed on Facebook Live at this link: Facebook.com/optionscharterschools/.

    The ceremony can be viewed on Facebook Live on Wednesday, May 27 at 6:30 p.m. EST. Following the conclusion of the 6:30 PM live event, the full ceremony will be available on-demand via Options Schools’ Facebook page.

    Each campus Principal has already reached out to the Class of 2020 to provide information on how students can obtain their cap & gown, along with how they will be able to participate in the ceremony virtually.

     

    About Options Schools
    Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

     

     

  • April 14 Update For Student & Parents

    Parents and Students,

    We hope this letter finds you and your families well as we all continue to Hunker-Down in Indiana and do our part to fight off the pandemic of COVID-19.  On April 2nd, Dr. McCormick, the Indiana State Superintendent of Education, announced that schools will not be allowed to return back to the physical buildings for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Prior to spring break, we shared our plan for instructional days following spring break and that plan has not changed with this announcement.  An explanation of the plan is also included in this letter as well as some additional details for graduating seniors.  

    We returned to eLearning, Monday, April 13, 2020 with all courses now set up in such a way that students may complete at their own pace with the goal of completing all currently assigned courses by May 1.  Students enrolled in the Options-Distance Education, Options @ HYCA and Options @ BACA programs will continue to complete courses according to their individual pacing plans. We are hopeful this will excite students and encourage focused work with the reward of an early summer break!  Teachers will continue to provide direct instruction through videos, virtual office hours, Google Hangout and Zoom meetings, and by appointment for individual virtual help.  

    Dr. McCormick also announced on April 2nd that all graduating seniors will receive acknowledgment in all spring courses in which they are already enrolled to ensure they are able to meet graduation requirements.  Please note, “acknowledgment” is not the same as credit. In order for seniors to earn the transcripted credit in the courses, they must still complete the content and earn a passing grade. We are encouraging all seniors, along with all students, to push forward with their courses and work to complete all coursework on May 1, 2020. 

    Beginning May 4, 2020, through May 27, 2020, Options will run a 4-week credit recovery session for all students that need extended time past the May 1st deadline or that are credit deficient and would like to enroll in an additional course or two.  Advisors and counselors will help students choose appropriate courses and will direct students to fill out this sign-up form.  Sign up forms are not necessary for Options-Distance Education and Options @ BACA students.  In addition, we will still offer summer school, online-only, June 1, 2020, through June 26, 2020.  Students will need to fill out the form for each 4-week term with the courses they wish to take. 

    Dr. McCormick’s announcement does require us to also change how we celebrate together through our spring events such as the spring picnic, prom, and graduation.  Our leadership teams will continue to work together to develop alternative plans and will share more information as we have it ready to share. We are very proud of our students and their continued resiliency!   

    Thank you, again, to each of you for being part of the Options’ family and trusting us to provide your children a sense of belonging in our schools, a belief in themselves, and encouragement to achieve their highest potential. We do not take that gift lightly. Also, our sincere thanks to all the dedicated people at all of the County and State Health Departments, the local and state officials, and to our staff at Options Schools who have been working tirelessly to prepare and plan for our students and families. 

    Point of Contact by Program:

     

    Quick Guide Calendar

    March 30 – April 10 — Spring Break – No School

    April 13 – May 1 — eLearning (Courses now At-Your-Own Pace)

    May 1 — End of Semester 2

    May 4 – May 27 — Credit Recovery Session 1 (Maymester)
    Sign-up Form

    June 1 – June 26 — Credit Recovery Session 2 (Summer School)
    Sign-up Form

    August 5 — First Day for Students, Fall 2020

     

    About Options Schools
    Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

     

  • Options Schools to Remain Closed Through End of 2019-20 Academic Year

    NOBLESVILLE – As was announced Thursday by State Superintendent Dr. Jennifer McCormick, all K-12 classrooms in Indiana will remain closed through the end of the 2019-20 academic year. The closure results from the current COVID-19 pandemic.

    Options Schools campuses have been closed since Monday, March 16. Students are currently on Spring Break (March 30-April 10).

    Options leadership will work with its administration, along with officials of other Hamilton County schools to determine a plan for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year.

    An update will be shared prior to the resumption of classes following Spring Break on Monday, April 13.

     

    About Options Schools
    Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

     

  • Student Schedule Following Spring Break (As of March 23)

    Parents and Students,

    The last couple of weeks have challenged each of us in some similar and unique ways. We have been so fortunate, as a school family, to have a group of students and parents that have been patient and incredibly flexible with the changes in learning platforms. We have heard so many positive stories already of how you are all continuing to build community in alignment with our Relationships-First mission yet keeping the appropriate social distancing requirements. We recognize that while this situation is not ideal for students, staff or parents, it is important for the health and safety of our overall community. Our students and teachers continue to show us how resilient they really are!

    We hope you will use the upcoming spring break as an opportunity to rest and heal, both physically and mentally. We know many of you have had to cancel family plans and normal busy schedules have slowed during this time at home. We encourage you to continue to schedule time each day to take care of yourselves and your family as a whole unit. If we are not careful and intentional, we can begin to feel isolated. Your Options family is here to walk with you and ready to help in any way we can. Please let us know if you or your family have any needs with which we may assist.

    Options Charter Schools are on spring break beginning Monday, March 30, 2020, through Friday, April 10, 2020.  We will return to eLearning, Monday, April 13, 2020. At that time, all courses will have been set up in such a way that students may complete at their own pace with the goal of completing all currently assigned courses by May 1. We are hopeful this will excite students and encourage focused work with the reward of an early summer break!

    Beginning May 4, 2020, through May 27, 2020, Options will run a 4-week credit recovery session for all students that need extended time past the May 1st deadline or that are credit deficient and would like to enroll in an additional course or two. If we are able to return to the buildings at that time, this session will run from 8:00 am-12:00 pm each day. If not, we will continue through the eLearning platform.

    At this time, we are holding off on making any decisions about spring events such as the spring picnic, prom, or graduation. We are hopeful we are able to be together again before the end of the year but will follow the lead of our health agencies and government officials.  Summer school will continue as planned, beginning June 1, 2020, through June 26, 2020. If we are able to be in the buildings, this will be held at the Noblesville campus and will run from 8:00 am-12:00 pm. Students are able to enroll in up to two courses for summer school. More information and sign up sheets will be sent out in April.

    Thank you, again, to each of you for being part of the Options’ family and trusting us to provide your children a sense of belonging in our schools, a belief in themselves, and encouragement to achieve their highest potential. We do not take that gift lightly. Also, our sincere thanks to all the dedicated people at all of the County and State Health Departments, the local and state officials, and to our staff at Options Schools who have been working tirelessly to prepare and plan for our students and families.

     

    Quick Guide Calendar

    March 30 – April 10 Spring Break – No School
    April 13 – May 1 eLearning, Courses set to At-Your-Own Pace
    May 1 End of Semester 2
    May 4 – May 27 Credit Recovery Session 1
    June 1 – June 26 Credit Recovery Session 2 (Summer School)
    August 5 First Student Day, Fall 2020

     

    Point of Contact by Program:

     

    About Options Schools
    Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

     

     

  • Options Schools closure update (March 19)

    As was announced Thursday by Governor Eric Holcomb, all Indiana schools will be closed through May 1 and all state standardized tests have been canceled.

    All Options Schools students will remain on their current E-Learning curriculum at this time. All Options campuses will remain closed, with Spring Break scheduled for March 30-April 10.

    Options will collaborate with Hamilton County school superintendents, along with state and local health officials in order to coordinate a plan through May 1.

    Information and news will be shared once a plan has been prepared.

     

    About Options Schools
    Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

  • Options Pantry makes immediate impact amidst school closures

    With more than 200 Indiana school districts having closed in response to COVID-19, students throughout Indiana are experiencing a change in their daily schedule. One of those changes is the access to lunch and other meals that are available to students when at school.

    In an effort to ensure no students would go hungry during the extended break, Options Schools looked to its recently-renovated food pantry.

    With the Options-Noblesville Pantry already in place, the foundation was set to make an immediate impact when staff learned Friday that Options Schools campuses would transition to E-Learning, beginning Monday, March 16. With help from students Symone and Jocelyn, Options-Noblesville Instructional Assistant Elizabeth Essig was able to prepare 100 bags of non-perishable foods. 50 of the bags were transported to Options-Carmel.

    Some of the supplies were provided by the Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank, while others were purchased by Options. In addition to the 100 bags of food, White River Christian Church supplied Options with perishable and non-perishable items for 10 more families.

    With additional supplies remaining, Options teachers and administration will distribute remaining supplies in the following days & weeks.

     

    About Options Schools
    Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

     

     

  • Options Schools Transitions To E-Learning For COVID-19 Safeguard

    NOBLESVILLE – Amid growing concerns surrounding the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), and a recommendation by the Hamilton County Health Department, Options Schools will close through Spring Break (March 30 – April 10).

    The closure will be effective Monday, March 16 and Options administration will reevaluate the closure prior to April 10. All Options Schools students will transition to an E-Learning format for the remainder of the closure. Options will begin E-Learning for ALL PROGRAMS beginning Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 27, 2020 for a total of 10 days. Students will access the curriculum from home, virtually. Access to the building will still be allowed, but by appointment only.

    Options administration also announced that all events with large attendance were postponed. The list of postponed events includes: Options-Noblesville Senior Institute Gallery Walk (March 17), Options-Westfield Groundbreaking Ceremony (March 18), Options-Carmel Open House (March 18), Options-Carmel Senior Institute Gallery Walk (March 20) and Options-Noblesville Open House (March 25).

    An email was sent to all Options parents outlining details of the closure and E-Learning Days. The email can be viewed here in its entirety.

     

  • Options Schools Postpones Events For COVID-19 Precautions

    NOBLESVILLE – In order to remain committed to the health and safety of students and faculty, Options Schools has postponed upcoming events with large attendance, through the end of March with the current threat of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

    The list of postponed events currently includes: Options-Noblesville Senior Institute Gallery Walk (March 17), Options-Westfield Groundbreaking Ceremony (March 18), Options-Carmel Open House (March 18), Options-Carmel Senior Institute Gallery Walk (March 20) and Options-Noblesville Open House (March 25).

    As originally scheduled, Wednesday, March 18 will remain an E-Learning Day for all Options students.

    “After consulting with the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) and local officials, we feel that it is in the best interest of our students and staff to temporarily postpone Options Schools events,” said Dr. Mike Gustin, Options Schools President. “At this time, we do not feel school closure is necessary. However, we are encouraging all students and staff members to practice good sanitation habits and to remain home if they are feeling ill.”

    Students concerned about their own welfare or potential exposure to family members may elect to participate in the Options’ Alternative Classroom Experience and learn from home. Parents should contact their building principal for more information on this option.

    Currently, there are no suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in any Options Schools campuses. If a case were to occur, Options would notify staff, students and parents from the involved school(s) and follow the recommendations of local, state and federal authorities. In the event schools would need to be closed for an extended period of time, Options would utilize E-Learning Days and postpone in-person meetings for Distance Education students.

    The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on Wednesday. The ISDH and Centers of Disease Control (CDC) have shared guidance based on what is known about the transmission and severity of COVID-19. Per their recommendation, Options administration will continue to collaborate, share information, and review plans with local health officials.

  • Options Schools, Hoosier Youth ChalleNGe Academy announce partnership

    KNIGHTSTOWN, In. – In an effort to continue making a positive impact on students across the state of Indiana, Options Schools and the Indiana National Guard Hoosier Youth ChalleNGe Academy have come together in order to provide students with an opportunity to continue progressing towards their high school diploma.

    The Indiana National Guard Hoosier Youth ChalleNGe Academy (HYCA) is part of the National Youth ChalleNGe Program which was established in 1993 by the National Guard and has graduated over 90,000 Cadets. Founded in 2007, the Youth ChalleNGe Program was developed to change the life path of young men and women between the ages of 16 and 18 who have dropped out of high school or are severely deficient in credits by bringing structure and discipline with an emphasis on the eight Core Components. HYCA empowers youths to embrace responsibility, achievement and positive behavior, while also instilling confidence, fostering ambition and increasing employment opportunities. HYCA is a 17 ½ month, two phase, quasi-military training academy, with the first 5 ½ months of the program referred to as the Residential Phase in which Cadets live at the HYCA campus in Knightstown, Indiana. The program has been based in Knightstown since 2010.

    Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

    As is the case within all Options Schools programs, flexibility for students remains an important focus. Options @ HYCA students are able to continue to earn credits towards their high school diploma while attending HYCA. Students will have the ability to graduate from Options if eligible, transfer back to their home high school following HYCA graduation or continue with one of the many Options programs available.

    “There are many similarities when it comes to the mission and focus of Options Schools and the Hoosier Youth ChalleNGe Academy, which makes it exciting to be able to have the two organizations work together,” said Mike Gustin, Options CEO/President. “We are excited that our partnership with the Hoosier Youth ChalleNGe Academy is going to help provide more students with a high-quality education and benefit the lives of young people across Indiana.”

     

     

  • Two Open Houses set for mid-January

    At Options, every student enrolled comes with an important and valuable story that shapes their individualized learning plan. In order to continue our efforts of serving students in search of a different approach to education, Options Charter Schools will be hosting a pair of Open Houses in January.

    The Carmel campus will host an Open House on Tuesday, January 14 and the Noblesville event will be held on Wednesday, January 15. Each Open House will begin at 5 p.m. and conclude at 7 p.m. Attendees will have the opportunity to tour the respective campus and speak in detail with Options Principals, teachers and other team members in order to learn more about the Options experience.

    Serving students in grades 6-12 at the Noblesville campus and grades 8-12 at the Carmel campus, Options Schools are free, public charter schools. Providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1, Options was founded in 2002 as one of the first five charter schools in the state of Indiana. Options also offers a Distance Education program that serves students throughout Indiana with an online, web-based platform.

    Location information for each campus is listed below and directions to each campus can be found here.

    Unable to attend an Open House? You can visit OptionsSchools.org to schedule a campus tour and information session for another day & time.

    Applications are still being accepted for the 2020 spring semester as a limited number of seats remain at each campus.

    In addition to brick and mortar campuses in Carmel & Noblesville, and the Distance Education Program, Options also serves students through ‘Options @ BACA’ and Options @ Growing Minds.

     

  • Charter School Accountability

    Curious about how Options Schools & other charter schools are held accountable? We’re here to share some info!

    Not just anyone can authorize a charter school. A charter school authorizer may only be one of the following:

    – Mayor of Indianapolis
    – Four-year state university (Options Schools are authorized by Ball State University)
    – Any traditional public school board
    – The Indiana Charter School Board (a state agency existing solely to act as a statewide authorizer) – Non-profit college or university that offers a four-year educational program, where the board of trustees is ultimately the responsible party and may be granted a charter.

    The State Board of Education has a rigorous accountability framework for authorizers, which includes the ability to close charter schools and end the authorizers’ ability to sponsor schools. Not just anyone and definitely not a for-profit organization may be a charter school “organizer”.

    An organizer must receive approval from an authorizer to start a charter school. The organizer is accountable to the authorizer to meet the terms of the agreement. It typically takes up to two years for a charter school to go from an idea to opening its doors.

    Charter schools are subjected to the same state testing and accountability requirements as traditional public schools.

    All charter school agreements must include a requirement that the charter school close after four consecutive years of F ratings. If an authorizer chooses not to close a charter school after four consecutive F ratings, they must request and receive approval from the State Board of Education (SBOE) to renew the charter agreement. After a hearing, the SBOE must implement one or more of the following: grant the renewal request (and determine length and conditions of renewal), order the closure of the school, and/or reduce the amount of administrative fees the authorizer can collect.

    Charter schools are required to have an independent financial audit completed every year, unlike traditional public schools which are only audited by the State Board of Accounts every other year.

    Unlike some traditional public schools, no student is forced to attend a charter school. Parents make the decision to send their child to a charter because they believe it will be the best educational environment for their student. A lottery must be held if the number of students who wish to attend the charter school is greater than the number of available seats in the school.

     

    About Options Schools
    Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & another campus coming to Westfield. Options also offers a Distance Education program that serves students throughout Indiana. Providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1. With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002.

    About Public Charter Schools
    Public charter schools are independent, public, and tuition-free schools that are given the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Since 2010, many research studies have found that students in charter schools do better in school than their traditional school peers. For example, one study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that charter schools do a better job teaching low income students, minority students, and students who are still learning English than traditional schools. Separate studies by the Center on Reinventing Public Education and Mathematica Policy Research have found that charter school students are more likely to graduate from high school, go on to college, stay in college and have higher earnings in early adulthood.

     

  • Charter Schools by the Numbers

    The following information was provided by the Indiana Charter School Network

    For the fourth year in a row, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS) ranked Indiana 1st in the nation for the strongest state charter school law.

    The Center for Education Reform rated Indiana as an “A” for our charter school law in their 17th Edition of its National Charter School Law Rankings and Scorecard. Arizona and the District of Columbia were the only others to receive an A rating.

    The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) ranked Indiana first in the country for our laws on authorizer accountability.

    State law requires that every charter agreement must include a requirement that the charter school cannot remain an F rated school for 4 consecutive years. If an authorizer fails to close a school after 4 consecutive F ratings, the State Board of Education may intervene and close the school as well as penalize the authorizer.

    15 out of 16 independent studies found that students attending charter schools do better academically than their traditional school peers.

     

    About Public Charter Schools
    Public charter schools are independent, public, and tuition-free schools that are given the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Since 2010, many research studies have found that students in charter schools do better in school than their traditional school peers. For example, one study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that charter schools do a better job teaching low-income students, minority students, and students who are still learning English than traditional schools. Separate studies by the Center on Reinventing Public Education and Mathematica Policy Research have found that charter school students are more likely to graduate from high school, go on to college, stay in college and have higher earnings in early adulthood.

    About the Indiana Charter School Network
    The Indiana Charter School Network serves as Indiana’s charter school association. A great majority of Hoosier charter schools are dues-paying members. ICSN works closely with the IQE policy team in the development of policy positions to be shared with policymakers, to ensure our charter school members are represented well at the state level. ICSN provides member schools with communications on policy issues, grant opportunities, charter-related research, events of interest, and other relevant information. ICSN provides professional development opportunities for charter school staff and connects member schools to vendor partners offering our schools exceptional service or discounts.

     

  • Learn About Charter Schools

    Courtesy of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, we have constructed this page to provide general information on public charter schools. This page contains answers the question “What Is A Charter School?” and also provides answers to Frequently Asked Questions about charter schools.

    Reimagining Education: One school, one classroom, one student at a time

    Charter schools are independently-operated public schools that have the freedom to design classrooms that meet their students’ needs. All charter schools operate under a contract with a charter school authorizer – usually a nonprofit organization, government agency, or university – that holds them accountable to the high standards outlined in their “charter.” It is common to see charter schools led by former teachers who wanted to take the lessons they learned in the classroom and apply those lessons to an entire school.

    Each of the more than 7,000 charter schools is unique – both inside and out. Some focus on college prep, some follow a STEM curriculum, and others integrate the arts into each subject. Most charter schools are located in cities, but there are charter schools in suburban and rural areas as well. Some charter schools require uniforms, others have longer school days, and some teach their entire curriculum in two languages. The possibilities are endless, but charter schools aim to provide a range of options so that parents can choose the public school that best fits their child.

    The reasons that parents choose charter schools for their children are just as unique as the students themselves. They choose charter schools because of the strong, dedicated teachers, because the school’s focus matches their child’s needs, or simply because their child was struggling in their assigned public school and needed to try something new. Charter schools provide families with options in public education, allowing parents to take a more active role in their child’s education.

    How do charter schools work?

    Charter schools are public schools operating under an independent contract or “charter” with an authorizing agency—typically a non-profit organization, government agency or university.  The charter provides the school with operational autonomy to pursue specific educational objectives regarding curriculum, staff, and budget. It also holds them accountable to the same (often higher) standards of their district public school peers.

    Are charter schools public schools?

    Yes, charter schools are independently-operated, public schools. Charter schools provide a high-quality education option to public school students, upholding high standards that meet and often exceed the district and state metrics.

    How do I enroll my child in a charter school?

    Most charter schools have an enrollment period when parents can submit applications for the school. If there are more applications submitted than seats available, they will hold a randomized blind lottery. To learn more about applying to a charter school in your state, visit your state’s charter support organization website.

    Do charter schools have attendance boundaries?

    Charter schools do not have traditional school boundaries like district schools, which allows many charter schools to attract a diverse student body. Charter schools are restricted by state limits and some have city limits as well. Visit your state’s charter support organization website for more information about charter schools in your area.

    Are charter schools nonprofit?

    Yes, the overwhelming majority of charter schools are nonprofit organizations. Some states allow for-profit organizations to manage charter schools, but that accounts for less than 15% of charter schools across the country. Regardless, all charter schools are free to attend.

    How can I start a charter school?

    Charter schools can be started by any interested party, including parents, community members, and teachers.  It is common to see charter schools led by former teachers who wanted to take the lessons they learned in the classroom and scale to an entire school community. It is helpful to first identify a unique need in the community that the charter school would serve and connect with a local charter school authorizer. You can learn more about the charter school authorizers in your state on the National Association of Charter School Authorizers website.

    How can I teach at a charter school?

    A great place to start your search is on our Charter School Job Board! You can also learn more by from your state’s charter organization.

    Do charter schools have admission requirements?

    No, charter schools do not have admission requirements or entrance exams. Though many charter schools are in high demand and when that demand exceeds the spaces available in the school, a charter school may hold a randomized, blind lottery to determine which students are admitted or may preference students by need or location.

    What are some questions to ask when I’m choosing a charter school?

    As a parent, make sure you are familiar with the individual objectives and rules affiliated with the specific charter school that you are considering before you enroll your child. The reasons that parents choose charter schools for their children are just as unique as the students themselves. They choose their child’s school for a variety of reasons including strong, dedicated teachers, the school’s focus matches their child’s needs, or simply because their child was struggling in their zoned-public school and needed to try something new. Charter schools provide families with options in public education, allowing parents to take a more active role in their child’s education.

    What is a charter school authorizer?

    Authorizers are the institutions that decide who can start a new charter school, set expectations and oversee school performance, and decide which schools should continue to serve students or not. Depending on state law, authorizers can be school districts, education agencies, independent boards, universities, mayors and municipalities, and not-for-profits.

    Do charter schools charge tuition?

    No, charter schools are tuition-free, public schools.

    What makes charter schools different than other schools?

    Each of the more than 7,000 charter schools is unique – both inside and out. Some may focus on college prep, some follow a Montessori curriculum, and others integrate the arts into each subject. Most charter schools are located in urban areas, but there are charter schools in suburban and rural areas as well. Some charter schools require uniforms, others have longer school days, and some teach their entire curriculum in two languages. The possibilities are endless, but charter schools aim to provide a range of options so that parents can choose the school that best fits their child.

    Who supports charter schools?

    Charter schools enjoy widespread support from parents, teachers, community leaders, and both Republican and Democrat elected officials across the country. Learn more about some of our strongest supporters here.

     

     

    About Options Schools
    Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & another campus coming to Westfield. Options also offers a Distance Education program that serves students throughout Indiana. Providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1. With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002.

     

  • Options partners with Growing Minds Educational Services

    NOBLESVILLE – In order to continue serving students across the state of Indiana, Options Schools have formed a partnership with Growing Minds Educational Services that will provide a hybrid school model for students in grades 9-12, located in and around Fort Wayne, Indiana.

    Known as ‘Options @ Growing Minds,’ the hybrid program will offer students the relationship-based educational approach unique to the Options Schools, partnered with the wrap-around services that Growing Minds offers its clients.

    Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville, along with a Distance Education program, that specialize in providing students with an individualized approach and small class sizes. Founded in 2002, Options strives to serve all students needing an alternative to traditional education with innovative platforms that meet their specific needs.

    Founded in 2010, Growing Minds is a Fort Wayne-owned, for-profit educational business, that provides educational support services including academic tutoring, life skills, mentoring, and coaching with a desire to partner with a like-missioned school such as Options in order to provide the credit-earning supports for their clients that are eligible for alternative education under IC 20-20-22.

    ‘Options @ Growing Minds’ students will report to the Growing Minds campus (3320 Fairfield Ave.) for a minimum of three hours of Options educational instruction per day. Growing Minds will provide students with a myriad of wrap-around services that include life skills, mentoring and coaching.

    “After having visited Growing Minds a few weeks ago with Options COO Michelle Walden, it was easy to see how they make a major impact on students in the Fort Wayne area,” said Options President/CEO Dr. Mike Gustin. “The mission of Options has always been to serve students throughout the state of Indiana that are at-risk of not graduating high school and this new partnership allows us to continue doing that.”

    “This program is exactly what the children of Fort Wayne need as it provides a true alternative education program that is free and available to the public,” said Growing Minds Director of Education Beth Hodges. “We are excited for this new partnership and everything that it will do for students in and around Allen County.”

    Those in the Fort Wayne area that are interested in learning more about ‘Options @ Growing Minds,’ are invited to attend an upcoming Open House on Monday, Sept. 9 or Tuesday, Sept. 10. Both events will run from 6-8 p.m. and will take place at Growing Minds (3320 Fairfield Ave. Fort Wayne, IN 46807).

    Enrollment is now open for those interested in ‘Options @ Growing Minds’ and interested applicants can visit OptionsSchools.org/enroll-now to secure a seat. Applicants should also mention ‘Options @ Growing Minds’ within their online submission.

    For additional information about ‘Options @ Growing Minds,’ email Growing Minds Director of Education Beth Hodges.

     

    About Options Schools
    As free, public charter schools, Options Schools are designed to support the academic and social needs of students that haven’t found success in the traditional public school environment. At Options, students are encouraged to explore and embrace their individuality in a caring, supportive, and inclusive environment.

    Through small class sizes and an individualized academic approach, the outstanding and highly trained instructors and staff of Options propel students to achieving academic success both in high school and their future endeavors.

    About Growing Minds
    Established in 2010, Growing Minds provides educational services to all students. Growing Minds goes beyond academics, by providing life skills, mentoring, and coaching. Growing Minds believes that with guidance in a safe, caring learning environment all students can and will succeed.

     

  • Options Schools Unveils ‘Options @ BACA’ Pilot Program

    Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)

    NOBLESVILLE – A new partnership between Options Schools and The Behavior Analysis Center for Autism (BACA) will now provide families with the opportunity to have access to Applied Behavior Analysis therapy and an accredited public education in one convenient location.

    Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville, that specialize in providing students with an individualized approach and small class sizes. Founded in 2002, Options strives to serve all students needing an alternative to traditional education with innovative platforms that meet their specific needs.

    The Behavior Analysis Center for Autism specializes in providing the most efficacious applied behavior analysis services to children and young adults with autism while utilizing Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior. BACA is also known for improving the quality of life for every client by ensuring staff receive and apply intensive, on-going training.

    Known as ‘Options @ BACA,’ the program will offer diploma, certificate and functional academic tracks based on the individual needs of each student. Options’ highly-qualified team will be co-located within BACA Prep in Fishers. This blended model will provide students with an optimal learning environment to receive both their education and therapy services.

    “I have to begin by expressing my appreciation and respect for (BACA Co-Founder & Chief Clinician/President) Dr. Carl Sundberg with everything he has done at BACA to help so many people and impact so many lives,” said Options President/CEO Dr. Mike Gustin. “I speak for everyone on the Options team when I say that we are ecstatic to partner with BACA and serve students that previously were limited in their educational opportunities.”

    “We at the Behavior Analysis Center for Autism are very excited about our partnership with Options,” said BACA Co-Founder Dr. Carl Sundberg. “We believe that the two organizations working together will produce the best possible outcomes for our students. We are looking forward to following the growth of our clients as they move through this program.”

    Students attending the ‘Options at BACA’ program will participate in the educational program for three hours each day, either during the AM or PM session. In addition, families may choose to enroll with BACA for clinical services to be provided during the opposite session from education. Students do not need to be receiving BACA services in order to enroll in the ‘Options @ BACA’ educational program.

    Lisa Chandler will serve as the Program Director for ‘Options @ BACA,’ with her office based in BACA’s Fishers location. Lisa is experienced working in public education and clinical environments but has spent the last 10 years in an alternative educational setting. During this time, Lisa played a key role in the development, implementation, and growth of multiple educational and ABA programs for individuals on the spectrum. Lisa is highly skilled in classroom design, integrating sensory, therapeutic and academic needs to create environments for multiple learning styles and her background includes extensive curriculum and assessment development. A 2006 graduate of Indiana University, Lisa holds an Indiana teaching license in Mild Interventions P-12 and is currently pursuing her M. Ed. in Educational Leadership.

    The ‘Options @ BACA’ program will maintain a 3:1 student-to-teacher ratio and will also cap enrollment at 12 for the 2019-20 pilot year. The first day of the academic year for ‘Options @ BACA’ will be Tuesday, Sept. 3.

    To secure a seat in ‘Options @ BACA,’ interested applicants can visit OptionsSchools.org/enroll-now to submit an application.

     

  • The growth of Options

    The start of the 2019-20 school year is here! Students are returning to school with their hope of gaining more ground towards graduation and their plans for a bright future. This year is especially exciting for me as it represents some significant milestones in the history of the organization. One of the most important milestones is our organizational goal to serve more students throughout Indiana with the same high-quality service that our past students have enjoyed. When I took over as President in 2008, Options Charter Schools was serving 270 students in two brick-and-mortar locations. This year we will serve more than 550 students throughout the state!

    The growth of Options Charter Schools has allowed us to build a stronger infrastructure of programs and staff. We are better serving our students by offering such programs as a comprehensive lunch program, a broader-based counseling program, partnering with the Hamilton-Boone-Madison County Special Education Cooperative to provide more extensive special education support, and hiring safety personnel for both of our brick-and-mortar locations to better improve school safety. Beyond those program changes, we continue to identify strong leaders both inside and outside the organization. In July, we promoted former Options-Carmel Principal Camille Scott-Tolliver to the position of Director of Curriculum and Instruction. To replace Camille at Carmel, we hired Mike Dunagan, formerly a principal with Charter Schools U.S.A.

    The development or implementation of new programs and our commitment to find and hire high-quality candidates demonstrates our commitment to make Options Charter Schools a high- quality educational option for students. The Options’ board and leadership team continue to work together to build and execute a vision for Options Charter Schools that begins with students and teachers in mind. The future is certainly bright for Options Charter Schools.

    I hope that every student and family have a very positive and safe school year. Please take full advantage of all of our programs and take time to get reacquainted with returning staff and get to know the new staff. At Options, we are all family – Belong, Believe, Achieve!

    Dr. Mike Gustin, President
    Options Charter Schools

  • Options expands 2019 Open House schedule

    In order to continue the efforts of serving as many students as possible within the state of Indiana, Options Charter Schools will be hosting six additional Open Houses from July until September.

    Each Open House will run from 4:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. and attendees will be able to tour the respective campus and speak with Options Principals, teachers and other team members.

    After hosting six well-attended Open Houses in the spring, Options is adding dates to provide more students with the opportunity to see what can be accomplished with a small, personalized approach to education.

    Open House Schedule
    Wednesday, July 24 (Noblesville)
    Wednesday, July 31 (Carmel)
    Wednesday, August 14 (Noblesville)
    Wednesday, August 21 (Carmel)
    Wednesday, August 28 (Noblesville)
    Wednesday, Sept. 4 (Carmel)

    The addresses for each campus can be found here. 

    Unable to attend an Open House? Visit OptionsSchools.org to schedule a private campus tour and you’ll also have a chance to have any questions answered by an Options team member.

    Applications are now being accepted for the 2019-20 school year, but space is limited so interested applicants should apply ASAP in order to secure a seat.

    About Options Schools
    As free, public charter schools, Options Schools are designed to support the academic and social needs of students that haven’t found success in the traditional public school environment. At Options, students are encouraged to explore and embrace their individuality in a caring, supportive, and inclusive environment.

    Through small class sizes and an individualized academic approach, the outstanding and highly trained instructors and staff of Options propel students to achieving academic success both in high school and their future endeavors.


  • An open letter from President Mike Gustin

    My name is Dr. Mike Gustin and I am the President of Options Charter Schools. Options has been serving Indiana students in grades 6-12 who are at-risk of not graduating high school since 2002. We are a small grassroots charter organization. For a while, it was nice to be known as one of the “best-kept secrets in Hamilton County,” but we are working to become more well known in order to carry out our mission and serve as many Indiana students in need as possible.

    As one of the five original charter schools in Indiana, we have seen the charter movement grow in our state and nationally. In fact, the first few years that Options operated as a charter school, we served only about 100 students. The great need for high quality alternative education, however, continues to drive our growth. When I took over as the president in 2012, Options served about 300 students in and around Hamilton County. Since that time, we have grown our programming to serve about 550 students across Indiana. The students access Options programming in a variety of formats: brick-and-mortar, credit recovery, virtual, hybrid, vocational training and dual enrollment.

    Options leadership and staff focuses on two primary objectives to achieve our mission: (1) By Intentionally building strong and positive relationships with students and parents we can begin to rebuild the trust that is necessary for students to graduate high school. It is part of our Options’ motto: Belong, Believe, Achieve. Our belief is that once a student and family have developed strong and positive relationships, the Options staff can use those relationships to help the student realign their beliefs about themselves, identify professional and personal growth goals, and begin to achieve academically. (2) By intentionally building strong and positive relationships with area traditional public school leaders, teachers, and counselors we are able to provide a stronger support across educational programming choices that promote better outcomes and reduce the “cracks” that students often slip into.

    Because of the strong political support the state’s charter schools have received and because we have been able to build several positive relationships with area traditional school superintendents, Options Charter School’s future is looking brighter than ever. We have plans to open a new Options campus in Westfield by the fall of 2021 and we continue to serve an ever-growing student population each year. Our strategic plan includes eventually having the capacity to enroll any student in grades 6-12 in Indiana that is at-risk of not graduating high school.

    Our growth in student enrollment and in the quality of services we can provide is possible because of the leadership offered by the National Alliance of Charter Schools and the National Alternative Education Association. It is also possible because of the support we receive from colleagues associated with our local special education cooperative, state alternative education association, state principals association, and several key employees of the Indiana Department of Education. We are very thankful to the National Alliance of Charter Schools for being the first of all these partnerships to lead in the fight for high quality charter school options.

    Mike Gustin


  • The immediate and distant future

    In case you haven’t yet heard our great news from a couple of weeks ago, our Board of Directors approved the motion to purchase land in Westfield that will become our new location for Options-Carmel.

    This is a monumental achievement for Options that has been seven years in the making and will allow us to expand our middle school reach and serve more students in Indiana. We are fortunate to have so many people on our side that are extremely dedicated to our cause and I am forever grateful to those who helped lead the way for this next step.

    While that news makes our future even brighter, so does recent changes to our Options team that will help our organization grow and improve in several ways.

    An Options team member since 2006, Jacob Brandau has been promoted to the role of Chief Financial Officer after having served as a teacher and Principal at Options-Noblesville. I am confident in Jacob’s abilities and know he will thrive in this position.

    Adam Barr, our most recent Options-Noblesville Assistant Principal, is taking over as Interim Principal and has been with Options since 2016. Adam and Jacob have worked very closely together leading up to their title changes in order to ensure seamless transitions for everyone involved.

    I am also excited to announce the addition of Eric Walden as our Director of School Safety, which is a newly-created position at Options. Skilled in communication and organization, Eric is mission-focused and has a strong understanding of school safety goals. He will help ensure a safe and secure learning environment for every person in each campus.

    We have also had the pleasure of adding some experienced and talented teachers to our team, which will only continue to raise the level of service we provide to our students.

    Whether you look at the immediate or distant future, there are plenty of bright spots surrounding Options.

    Know someone who could thrive at Options? They can learn more information and schedule a tour at OptionsSchools.org. I can also be reached directly through email at mgustin@optionsined.org.

    – Mike

  • Board of Directors Approve Westfield Land Purchase

    For Immediate Release

    January 15, 2019

    NOBLESVILLE – Last night, the Options Charter School Board of Directors took a historic step by a fulfilling a promise that was seven years in the making. By voting unanimously to purchase land in the Westfield area for a future campus location that will serve grades 6-12, Options is moving towards a more stable and secure future.

    The opportunity to purchase land provides the organization with the ability to shift from leasing its facilities to owning, therefore cementing Options even further in the landscape of Hamilton County and the Indiana education system.

    “I am so thankful to all of our board members for everything they do for Options on a daily basis and everyone in the Options family is excited about last night’s news,” said Options President Mike Gustin. “Since we were founded in 2002, there are many people that helped put us on the path to success that we are on now. This is another step in the right direction as we continue to work towards our goal of providing high-quality, alternative education to more students across Indiana.”

  • The growth of Options continues
    Options – Noblesville

    With 2018 now complete, I am excited that the second semester is underway as we work towards making 2019 the best it can be.

    Discussions for the future of Options Schools are always exciting to be a part of, whether they take place with the Options staff, students, families or members of our great community.

    One of our biggest current focuses is on helping Options continue to grow across Hamilton County and throughout the state of Indiana with the development of programs such as our distance education alternative.

    As we grow the group of students we serve, we are also growing our staff in multiple areas, which will allow us to grow successfully and positively by having a strong foundation cemented by a high-quality staff that supports everything we do.

    While we work on setting ourselves up to improve the current quality of services we provide, we are also actively targeting additional growth in the programs we offer.

    Our eyes remain forward as we look to replicate our successful programs in new communities as we work towards our goal of doubling our current number of students served in the next five years.

    Know of a friend or classmate that might be interested in Options? They can email me at mgustin@optionsined.org or learn more by visiting OptionsSchools.org

    — Mike

  • President’s Blog

    President’s Blog

    Options Charter Schools is an exciting place to work or attend school! There is an excitement for staff and students as information about new and growing programs and potential facility changes are just on our horizon. We currently have two pilot programs operating that, if successful, will necessitate facility changes to accommodate increased student population. The first is our Distance Education (DE) pilot. For years, Options has worked with students to provide students with DE choices when their life circumstance would not allow them to attend the brick-and-mortar school all day. In fall of 2016, Options implemented a one-to-one Chromebook program that allowed our distance education choices to become far more supportive for distance education. The DE pilot program is to test the quality of our programming in a virtual setting.

     

    The second is a middle school pilot program. After speaking with several Hamilton and Madison County superintendents and their leadership teams it became very clear that having another school choice for some middle school student is critical. The middle school pilot began in January, 2017 and, if successful, a full middle school option will be available in the fall of 2017. If these two program options are successful and become part of our program choices for students it will certainly impact the overall number of students Options Charter Schools will serve.

    The future for Options is bright and we are very excited!

    Mike Gustin

  • President’s Blog

    There are so many exciting events happening at Options High School this fall! This is a truly wonderful place to work and an even better place to earn your high school diploma. I encourage any parent or student who is seeking a great place to earn a high school diploma to call or email our leadership team for more information! Please hurry there are only a few student spots still available.

     

    We are completing our third week of the fall 2016 semester and the students have responded very enthusiastically to the extensive building renovations and to the new Chromebooks. Our fall picnic, located at Dillon Park near the corner of 146th and Hazel Dell, is scheduled for Friday September 9, 2016. The picnic is great day for our staff and students to bond while eating some good food and playing games! Please take a moment to check out our school calendar for other upcoming events like open house. Open house allows prospective parents and students the opportunity to learn more about Options, tour our facilities, and meet some of the staff.

     

    If you have not graduated high school and are currently not enrolled in school or not earning credits towards graduation then take a look at the website, come to an event, and email or call us. Make 2016-17 the year you finally finish your high school diploma!

     

    Mike

  • President’s Blog

    The summer of 2016 went by so quickly! The start of the 2016-2017 school year is just around the corner- August 1st for teachers and August 3rd for students. The staff has been very busy this summer preparing for what will be a great school year! This summer each building underwent renovations that included: upgraded school security, upgraded science classrooms, new paint, new P.E. equipment, and much more.

    In addition to the renovation, more than 300 Chrome-books were purchased to improve our communication and curriculum delivery for every student. The school renovation and technology updates are only a few items, on a rather lengthy summer to-do list, that will allow us to better serve our students and their families. All staff and students should return to school excited and ready to work together to help our students move closer to graduation.

    Looking forward to a great year!

    Mike