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IPS revises Rebuilding Stronger plan

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Public Schools board has made some recent changes to its Rebuilding Stronger plan.

Rebuilding Stronger is a new initiative passed by the board that aims to improve achievement for all students, show dramatic gains for Black and Hispanic students, increase graduation rates, and increase enrollment over the next 5 years. The board took feedback from parents, educators, and community members before the plan was unanimously voted on in Nov. 2022.

The plan would give more middle students access to subjects and extracurriculars, such as band/orchestra, world language, and algebra. Smaller schools and schools with poor facilities would be closed or consolidated to make way for new schools for students in kindergarten through fifth grade and grades six through eight.

Related: Rebuilding Stronger: A break down of the proposal and what’s next for the plan

The plan was to be funded by two referendums: The capital referendum, which would fund construction projects and upgrades at 23 IPS schools, and the operating referendum, which focuses on funding higher-quality programs and paying employees more competitive salaries.

The operating referendum was dropped from the May ballot, but the $410 million capital referendum will remain. IPS also decided to reduce the capital referendum’s proposed property tax increase from $6 per month to $3 per month.

“Right now, we’re really focused on our capital referendum, which is still a massive investment from our community to make sure our kids have learning spaces, facilities that are safe, warm, inviting and will support those programs that we want our students to get access to,” IPS Superintendent Dr. Aleesia Johnson said on Daybreak.

Johnson says that she, along with her chief financial officer and deputy superintendent, plan to promote the plan to the Indianapolis community, which will allow them to reimplement the capital referendum into the ballot at a later date.

“The beauty is the majority of the plan was gonna happen for school year 24-25,” Johnson says. “We do have some time in there to make sure that from a savings standpoint that we are using every dollar wisely and being maximizing our resources to determine how we can make sure our students get access to things like algebra like music and the arts things every student deserves to have.”

According to Johnson, the capital referendum will allow IPS to provide great opportunities for Indy-area students.

“We spent the last year-and-a-half engaging with our community, really thinking about what do we want for the future of IPS, and so we came back with some really incredible opportunities for us to expand the experience our students get with things like the arts, more STEM-based learning experiences, upgrades with the athletic experiences kids get. So we are still on the path to making sure we can make that a reality for our students.”