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Teachers’ associations share concerns about IPS rebuilding proposal

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Educators from the Indiana State Teachers Association along with the Indianapolis Education Association went before the Indianapolis Public Schools Board on Thursday night to address concerns over the district’s rebuilding proposal.

The plan includes but isn’t limited to:   

  • Grade Configuration: Creating school for K-5 and 6-8 students to offer robust elementary and middle school experiences.
  • Enrollment Zones: Offering choice schools vs. neighborhood schools for families.
  • Facility Upgrades: Renovating buildings to create higher-quality learning environments.
  • School Consolidation and Closures: Reducing the number of small schools and poor facilities.

The board plans to consider accepting the final proposal by November. Indianapolis Education Association looks forward to collaborating with IPS on changes before the board votes.

Jack Hesser with Indianapolis Education Association said, “We see ourselves as partners in that work. We believe that if we work together with the district, our union can be of benefit to make this plan better for families, for students and for teachers.”

The teachers’ organization outlined four commitments they’re seeking:

  • Commitment to not allow any closed buildings to become new innovation/charter school sites.
  • Bargain staff retention bonuses before the school-board vote.
  • Commitment to a transparent staff relocation process that values and involves Indianapolis Education Association members. This would include a revision of the current survey process.
  • Program shifts involving.

“This where we as an association stand. This is where our community stands, and we need to be heard and we need to make sure that in an unfiltered way our message is getting out there cause it’s a message that’s resonating with teachers and families and students,” Hesser said.

Next to Hesser ahead of the IPS board meeting Thursday night was Rosiland Jackson, a teacher for William Penn School 49. The school serves students in K- Grade 8, but, if the proposal is finalized, that would mean that would be restructured to separate grades 6-8 from K-5.

“I’m a third grade teacher, but they are turning my building into a 6-8, but the students that I currently have, I have seventh graders in the building that I will lose a connection with. I have eighth graders in that building that I have seen growth,” Jackson said.

She said she’s content with idea if it’s better for students overall, but wants the district to keep in mind how students will be affected by the proposed change.

“I can get another job within IPS. I can move to another school or away, but it’s not the same as being able to check in with those students you previously had when they’re right there,” Jackson said.

Nicole Cooper is a teacher for Harshman Middle School. She’s also a parent with kids in the IPS district. She said she had one child attend the school and wanted the same for her others, but with the proposed restructure that wouldn’t happen.

Both educator groups said they believe transparency and communication hasn’t been available from the district.

One day after Superintendent Aleesia Johnson announced the proposal, a survey went out to teachers to inquire about options for relocation. Hesser and Cooper said the survey was extremely vague and asked teachers if they supported the proposal.

“To ask me if I support a plan while also disregarding how I may feel about, it is just not fair to me and any other teacher parent who stands with IEA or in the system and is not a member of the union. That’s all we’re asking. Clarity. Not to be vague,” Cooper said.

Hesser said their groups are set to have a one-on-one with the district next week.