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August Board Preview: Innovation Network Schools Update

When the Indianapolis Public Schools Board of School Commissioners convene for its Agenda Review Session Tuesday, Aug. 27, and Board Action Session Thursday, Aug. 29, topics will include 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 will share an update with school commissioners on how the district currently thinks about innovation conversion candidates, introduce a new pathway to innovation and provide 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 jump-start. 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 jump-start 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 jump-start school would remain within the LEA, meaning it would not have a charter operator.

 Innovation Partner Selection Timeline: