February 8, 2018

Student Advisory Council

 BREAKING THE ICE — Members of IPS’ Student Advisory Council participate in a fun ice breaker before one of their recent meetings. The Student Advisory Council is one of four advisory council the. district has created to gather and include input from students, parents, teachers and alumni for the All-Choice High School Experience.

As the 2017-18 school year passes the midway point, plans for the next school year are kicking into full swing.

When the new school year begins in August, Indianapolis Public Schools will debut four all-Choice high schools at Arsenal Technical High School, George Washington High School, Shortridge High School and Crispus Attucks High School. The All-Choice High School Experience will boast a select lineup of College and Career Options to ensure students graduate enrolled in college, enlisted in the military or employed at a livable wage.

To prepare, the district has assembled the following four Advisory Councils which meet separately with their core groups to collaborate and ensure there will be a smooth high school transition:m

  • Student Advisory Council — made up of students from each high school along with middle school students.
  • Parent Advisory Council — composed of parents and the Parent Involvement Educator (PIE) from each high school.
  • Teacher Advisory Council — consists of teachers from the high schools and across other grades.
  • Legacy Preservation Council — includes high school alumni and other community stakeholders with special interests in the schools.

The Student Advisory Council is focused on making all students the top priority in the transition process, so everyone is empowered and prepared to overcome any challenges that may arise. This group includes 35 students who meet weekly with 10 adult facilitators through Skype, GroupMe chats and face-to-face meetings.

“Their work has been stellar and their perspectives on the topics that we face with this change have been monumental,” said Flora Jones, Student Services director and Student Advisory Council lead. “The students have shared their thoughts on the high school changes as life-changing, student-focused, career readiness and creating a bright future for all students.”

Key topics of discussion have included the proposed high school transportation plan, the valedictorian and salutatorian selection process, and concerns about the impact the changes will have on students and their families. The students want to ensure they think through the potential challenges and eliminate any unnecessary challenges.

The Parent Advisory Council is made up of 30 parents and nine PIEs. This group meets twice a month. The parents are also enthusiastic about their mission to make sure parent voices are heard. At the meetings so far, members have stressed the importance of parents understanding the transition from middle school to high school, helping their students understand their choice options, what the curriculum will look like for each option and how transportation will work.

“The most important thing is that parents understand that they’re important stakeholders in their schools,” said Dr. Sandra Sears, IPS parent involvement coordinator and Parent Advisory Council lead. “You can’t complain about what you don’t like if you don’t speak out. We’re giving parents a platform to speak out about their child’s education.”

The Teacher Advisory Council has been meeting the longest. This group formed in September when the decision was first announced about which schools would close. Eighteen teachers from each of the high schools, middle schools and some elementary schools meet twice a month to discuss a wide range of topics. Chief among these topics is the staffing process for the schools, including preferences, interview requests and principal visits. Teacher representatives are also focused on the next school year and building momentum.

“This group of teachers has been invaluable to the Human Resources team,” said Mindy Schlegel, Human Resources officer and Teacher Advisory Council lead. “They have provided feedback and helped brainstorm ideas every step of the way since the announcement of the consolidation of the high schools.”

The Community & Legacy Preservation Council is made up of 20 members, including IPS alumni and local community stakeholders. This group meets monthly and has shared a lot of interest in making sure every part of the legacy of the closing high schools is preserved.

“It’s a very diverse group that has come together with a lot of passion about IPS,” said Paul Riley, director of Facilities Management and Legacy Preservation Council lead. “Every member is a product of IPS, either as a former student or a parent of an IPS student.”

This group is working closely with the alumni associations from each school to make sure they have input on how the schools’ legacies will be maintained and how their history will be preserved.

These councils will ensure community-wide perspectives are proactively included throughout the high school transition process and accurate and timely communication is disseminated throughout the IPS community.