IPS superintendent speaks out on proposed $1 billion tax increase

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis Public Schools’ superintendent is explaining why he believes the district needs a near billion dollar tax over eight years.

In the proposal, $92 million every year for eight years would go to teacher raises, expanding school programs and support for special needs students.

Another $200 million would go to renovating buildings and upgrading classroom technology. That adds up to $936 million.

The cost for you depends on your home’s property value. It would be about a $350 increase for a home valued at $123,000.

Superintendent Lewis Ferebee said it’s an investment in the future of Indianapolis.

You have a lot of time to mull things over. It will be on the ballot as a referendum in the May 2018 election. He said IPS needs to become more competitive in keeping its teachers.

Ferebee says it can be tough to keep teachers at this time because of salaries in surrounding districts. This plan would give teachers a two percent raise.

He said there are also buildings in desperate need of repairs and safety improvements with new lighting.

Parents have expressed mixed reactions on social media to the proposal.

Ferebee said he looks at it as a dollar a day to improve education for the typical family.

“We believe that’s a smart investment, particularly with the capital improvements. If we don’t make those improvements now, it will cost more later,” he said. “If we don’t have quality educators, we aren’t able to deliver the best education. If we aren’t able to deliver the best education for our students and families, I believe we will be challenged with other issues down the road.”

A few parents on Facebook asked if the IPS administration would take pay cuts to help fund these expenses. Ferebee said they haven’t had substantial increases to their salaries in some time but that they’re considering all options.

Ferebee said he’s not concerned about more families leaving due to higher taxes, even though declining enrollment has been a problem in the past.

You can voice your opinion at two public hearings in December. They will both be at 6 p.m. — on Dec. 12 and Dec. 14 at the John Morton-Finney Center for Educational Services, which is located at 120 E. Walnut St. in Indianapolis.