Education

IPS board meeting discusses referendum and Rebuilding Stronger proposal ahead of vote

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Tuesday night’s Indianapolis Public School (IPS) board meeting discussed a review of the Rebuilding Stronger proposal plan and the proposed referendum.

Ahead of the meeting, IPS superintendent Dr. Aleesia Johnson said that this week is set to be a big one. She said engagement in feedback has been robust with over 75 school meetings with one staff meeting at each school, at least two family meetings at each school and 12 community-based meetings from Sept. 13 to Oct. 19.

There’s been more than 1,000 attendees in these meetings with the district receiving over 960 discreet comments of feedback and 660 questions submitted. IPS staff also distributed 900 packets and made 800 individual phone calls at target schools to ensure awareness with families about the proposal plan.

As a result of feedback received from district stakeholders, IPS said they’ve updated aspects of the plan to better reflect the voices of parents, students, staff and community partners, while still ensuring equity in student experience for all students.

RELATED: Minority parents to IPS leaders: Address equity gaps before vote on ‘Rebuilding Stronger’

A number of families have expressed support for IPS and Paramount to expand its partnership. Leaders from both organizations have been in communication over the course of recent months and are exploring possible opportunities for future partnership. The district will move forward with an innovation school partnership with the Near Eastside Innovation School Corporation for the continued operation of Washington Irving School 14.  They expect an innovation agreement to be brought before the board in early 2023.

IPS will direct-manage the dual-language programming at Harshman rather than IPS charter partner Global Preparatory Academy. Dual-language and high-ability will be located at Harshman and operated as one school with two programmatic pathways. All staff at the school will be IPS employees. Students who qualify for both dual-language and and high-ability will be able to access both programs.

  • Principal selection processes will begin in January 2023, specifically for new schools that are launching to allow for an extended planning timeline.
  • For schools experiencing a program change, a supplemental administrator will be identified to support the school in SY23-24 to allow for additional planning and engagement capacity.

RELATED: Parents, taxpayers react to IPS proposal to ask voters to raise taxes

“This preliminary determination hearing is the next step to being on the ballot in May of 2023. So, as we talk about Rebuilding Stronger and a number of opportunities that Rebuilding Stronger will provide to our students and the ways and which it will help to grow our system overall, as we think about how to finance this work we know that we need to ensure that we are continuing to align our budget with our values,” Superintendent, Dr. Aleesia Johnson said.

Rebuilding Stronger would be financed in three ways: Capitol referendum, operating referendum, and continued alignment of the district’s budget to their values. 

The operating referendum would seek to propose a local property tax levy of no more than $0.25 on each assessed valuation. If approved, it would go into affect, January 1, 2024. The $0.25 rate would replace the current $0.19 local property tax levy. With this the money would support competitive salaries for staff, give students more educational opportunities and fund the expansion and replication of academic programming across the district.

The capital referendum would seek to generate $410 million to fund the Rebuilding Stronger plan, support new construction and renovations of IPS buildings.

Since 2013, state tuition support has increased 6% for IPS while increasing 21% for the state average. The district said there is a gap between funding needed to support students who have special needs with the funding received from the state and federal government. For the past 7 years, the gap for IPS according to the district has been $19 million for special education and $7 million for English language learners.

Board commissioners are scheduled to vote on the Rebuilding Stronger proposal during the action session this Thursday at 6:00 PM.

The action session will be livestreamed on our website at www.myips.org and the IPS Facebook page