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August 2019 Board Highlights

When the Indianapolis Public Schools Board of School Commissioners convened for its Agenda Review Session on Tuesday, Aug. 27, and Board Action Session on Thursday, Aug. 29, topics included an update to the Innovation Network Schools pathways and a quarterly finance update.

What follows is a deeper look at some of those agenda items.

Innovation Network Schools Update

Portfolio Officer Jamie VanDeWalle shared an update with school commissioners on how the district currently thinks about innovation conversion candidates. She also introduced a new pathway to innovation and provided an overview of the innovation partner selection timeline.

What Audiences Need to Know:

There are currently four paths to innovation that include:

  • New School:A new school may launch in partnership with IPS as an Innovation Network School.
  • Conversion:An existing IPS school may convert to innovation status based on the will of the school community and building leadership.
  • Restart:IPS may recommend a chronically low-performing school be restarted by a non-charter partner.
  • Charter Partner: A new or existing charter school can enter into a partnership with IPS for shared services as an Innovation Network School.

Here’s a closer look at a restart versus a conversion:

  • Restart
  • The district chooses this path as a dramatic intervention.
  • Schools have had persistent academic performance challenges.
  • The community has typically been engaged after the decision to restart the school is made.
  • IPS selects partners and makes a presentation to the board.
  • Most of the staff is replaced.
  • Dramatic program changes are expected.
  • Conversion
  • The school initiates the desire to convert to innovation status as an intervention tool.
  • Academic performance has varied. The school is generally higher performing.
  • Community buy-in is part of the application process.
  • The school comes up with the proposed model changes and presents the rationale.
  • Staff turnover has varied.
  • Enhancements are expected, but there’s not a need to overhaul the school model.

Key Messages:

The district is introducing a new path to innovation called Jumpstart. It’s a hybrid between the restart and conversion paths to allow the school and community to initiate innovation when the school is in need of intervention, but the district has not mandated the innovation change.

  • The school leader, community or teachers bring IPS the rationale and possibility of innovation as an intervention.
  • While a conversion school is typically higher performing, a jump-start school would be a lower performing school in need of improvement.
  • A Jumpstart requires a community anchor as part of the application process, however, full staff buy-in is not necessary.
  • Guideline is to retain about half of the staff.
  • There will be a greater overhaul of the current school model to achieve needed improvements.
  • Just like a conversion innovation school, a Jumpstart school would remain within the LEA, meaning it would not have a charter operator.

Innovation Partner Selection Timeline:

Quarterly Finance Update

IPS Chief Financial Manager Weston Young provided an update on the fourth quarter of the 2018-19 school year, including the status of district funds, financial management projects and priorities, and initiatives in progress.

What Audiences Need to Know:

IPS is committed to financial accountability. Over the past four years, IPS has voluntarily pursued greater transparency and more robust external financial statement reporting.

Key Messages:

  • IPS has closed the funding gap for the 2018-19 fiscal year due to sustained operational efficiencies and operating referendum proceeds received in late June 2019.
  • The funds allowed for continued investment in staff and systems.
  • The General Fund continued strategic compensation efforts and operated at a deficit. However, the fund balance would have been near $0 at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year without additional revenue from the operating referendum.
  • IPS continues to advocate for equitable resources with external stakeholders.
  • The state Legislature continues the trend toward equal, not equitable, funding.
  • District funding is projected to increase over the next two school years, yet remains 1.5 percent below the funding level in the 2010–11 school year.
  • Per pupil funding for lower-need districts increased at a higher percent than the per pupil funding for higher-need districts, like IPS.
  • IPS has issued $27 million in bonds related to the safety and security improvements approved by voters in 2018.
  • Due to the favorable market conditions, IPS taxpayers will pay $5 million less than originally projected.
  • IPS has reduced the Transportation Fund expenditures due to operational efficiencies.
  • Costs for the 2018-19 school year are below budgeted amount and total $9 million less than the 2016-17 school year.
  • Efficiency initiatives include:
  • Optimized tier structure.
  • New fuel-efficient bus fleet.
  • Optimized routing.
  • Reduced extracurricular transportation.
  • Consolidation of high schools.
  • IPS is seeing significant positive results from health and wellness and energy conservation initiatives.

Facilities Use Policy

ACTION – Approved 5-0

Use of Tobacco Policy

ACTION – Approved 5-0

Architect and Engineer Approval

ACTION – Approved 5-0

Surplus Sale of John Hope School 26

ACTION – Approved 5-0