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April 2020 Board Highlights

The Indianapolis Public Schools Board of School Commissioners convened for its Board Action Session on Thursday, April 30. Topics included the COVID-19 response update and the quarterly finance update.

What follows is a deeper look at those agenda items.

COVID-19 Response Update

Superintendent Aleesia Johnson provided an update on the district’s COVID-19 response during school closures.

What Audiences Need to Know

Meal Distribution

  • IPS Food Service is distributing meals at 16 school sites and two apartment complexes.
  • Meal distribution takes place on Mondays and Wednesdays.
  • Since the school closures started March 13, the district has served more than 240,000 meals.
  • Meals are available to any child age 18 and younger.
  • The partnership with Gleaners for food box distribution continues from 4 to 6 p.m., Mondays and Fridays. Each family receives a 17-pound box of nonperishable food items.
  • Approximately 50,000 families have received meals through the Gleaners program to date.


  • Broadcast Partnership
    • IPS launched a partnership with Circle City Broadcasting this week to broadcast Grade K–8 lessons from 8 to 10 a.m. Monday–Friday.
    • The broadcast lessons mirror those already posted online and align with information contained in the Home Learning packets.
  • Home Learning
    • Phase Two of the IPS Home Learning Plan started May 5.
    • Home Learning packets have already been mailed to K–8 families.
    • Learning days will expand from three days to four, Tuesdays–Fridays.
  • Summer School
    • IPS will hold Summer School.
    • The focus will be on high school students to ensure they remain on track to earn necessary credits.
    • Summer School will continue via the e-learning plan.
  • Graduation
    • Plans for honoring our graduating seniors are underway.
    • The district will hold virtual graduation ceremonies.
    • IPS has convened a group of seniors to offer feedback and ideas for planning the celebrations.
  • Technology
    • 3,700 Chromebooks have been distributed to date.
    • 900 MiFi mobile hotspot devices have been distributed to date.
    • An e-learning task force has been assembled to plan for a 1:1 student-to-device ratio for the 2020–21 school year.


  • The IPS Education Equity Fund
    • The IPS Education Equity Fund, launched by the IPS Foundation, has raised nearly $400,000.
    • Major corporate sponsors include Chiefs for Change, Apex Benefits, Indianapolis Colts, LDI Limited and Cincinnati Bell.
    • Individual gifts have also come in from a number of people, including school commissioners and executive leadership team members.
  • Indianapolis E-Learning Fund
    • $1.5 million has been activated to distribute to Marion County school districts and charter schools.
    • IPS will receive $246,000 to support e-learning efforts.
  • CARES Act
    • IPS will receive $21.2 million in federal funding.

ACTION: For Information Only

Quarterly Finance Update

Chief Financial Officer Weston Young shared a financial update for the third quarter of the 2019–20 school year.

What Audiences Need to Know

2019–20 Budget Updates Pre-COVID-19

  • Macro Environmental Factors Included:
    • State tuition support for the 2019–20 and 2020–21 school years.
    • Highest enrollment since the 2013–14 school year.
    • Global and local economic activity supported strong real-estate values and state revenues.
  • Strategic Conversations and Decisions:
    • Significant collective bargaining compensation and health insurance benefits adjustments.
    • Developed recommendation for English Language Arts textbook adoption.
    • Funded 3:1 student-to-device ratio to support digital curriculum initiatives.
    • Initiated Facilities Optimization Study.
    • Agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding with IndyGo for a two-year pilot.
    • Facilitated contracted transportation services Request for Proposal.

2019–20 Budget Updates Post-COVID-19

  • Macro Environmental Factors Include:
    • School buildings are closed through the end of the school year.
    • Home learning is required.
    • Global and local economic activity is impacting operations and cash flow of families, organizations and governments.
    • Supply chains for essential materials have been depleted or delayed.
    • State revenues have significantly decreased.
  • Strategic Conversations and Decisions:
    • Continue to pay IPS staff and contractors through the end of the school year.
    • Collaborate with organizations to:
      • Distribute food and supplies to students and families.
      • Provide child care to first responders.
  • Distribute technology devices and learning packets to staff and students.
  • Advocate for equitable access to the internet.

Key Messages

  • The CARES Act passed March 2020.
    • Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund
    • $21.2 million for IPS students
    • Flexible use for any activity currently allowed under federal education law
  • COVID-19 has impacted the global economy in a quick, drastic and historic way.
  • The district strives to develop a sustainable, long-term financial plan to support academic priorities.
  • Key decisions in the coming months will impact long-term cash flow planning.
  • 1:1 E-Learning is being adopted.
    • Plans to implement a 1:1 student-to-device e-learning ratio for the start of the 2020–21 school year include:
      • Purchasing 14,000 Chromebooks for students in Grades 3–12.
      • Purchasing 7,000 iPads for students in Grades K–2.
      • Purchasing 9,000 MiFi mobile hot spot devices.
    • The total investment equals approximately $12 million.
    • Funding will come from the district’s operational and bond reserves.
    • Additional funding sources include philanthropic giving and donations. 

ACTION: For Information Only

Click HERE for the Board presentation.

Updated Electronic Communications Policy

Updated administrative guidelines for ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS BY STAFF for internet and district-owned electronic devices.

ACTION: First Read (Board will vote at May Board Action Session)

Click HERE for the administrative guidelines.

Purple Star School Designation

The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) confers Purple Star School Designation honors for schools that have displayed a significant commitment to service members, veterans, and students and families connected to our nation’s military. The IDOE will honor the first cohort of schools earning this designation in the fall of 2020. The application deadline is May 25, 2020; award notifications are August 14, 2020.

Purple Star School applicants must:

  • Designate a staff member, Point of Contact (POC), at the school who serves as the liaison for service members, veterans, and students and families.
  • Ensure assigned POC has completed required grade-level training.
  • Maintain a dedicated webpage to provide recognition and resources for service members, veterans, and students and families.
  • Host a military recognition event that demonstrates a military-friendly culture.
  • Create and maintain a display recognizing service members, veterans, and/or students and families.
  • Provide evidence of board resolution representing school support for military students and families.
  • Guarantee job interviews for military service members and their immediate family members who meet the minimum qualifications for job openings within the school.

ACTION: Approved 7–0

Click HERE for the Board resolution.

Adjusted Calendar for the 2019–20 School Year

Superintendent Aleesia Johnson presented the adjusted 2019–20 school year calendar reflecting COVID-19 closure days and current home learning schedule.

ACTION: Approved 7–0

Click HERE for the adjusted calendar.

Surplus and Sale of the Forest Manor Facility

Authorization to sell Forest Manor facility

ACTION: Approved 4–3

Click HERE for the purchase agreement.

Discretionary Moving Expense Allowance

Authorization of Discretionary Moving Expense Allowance

ACTION: Approved 7–0

Click HERE for the Board resolution.