At the April 30 Action Session, the Indianapolis Public Schools Board of School Commissioners voted on several proposals for unique schools within IPS. Two Innovation Network School agreements were brought before the Board, along with a Simon Youth Foundation partnership and a transformative community collaboration on the Far Eastside.

Francis Scott Key/Phalen Leadership Academy

Commissioners approved an Innovation Network School at Francis Scott Key School 103 in an agreement with Phalen Leadership Academy (PLA). This school will remain in the district, serving students already living in Francis Scott Key’s boundary. Enrollment will open to students outside of the designated boundary if additional space is available. PLA will be responsible for its own personnel, and IPS will provide services including special education, ESL, transportation, food services, and maintenance. IPS will retain all funding received for those services.

Increased achievement is a goal of this partnership, and the agreement contains several performance metrics. These include 10 percent ISTEP+ growth in English/Language Arts and Math over the first two years and an 80 percent passing rate on IREAD by year three. Though the initial term of the contract is five years, failure to meet these academic goals could result in early termination of the agreement.

IPS agrees to pay PLA $7,631 per student each year, which is in line with current per-pupil funding. PLA would also receive a yearly management fee that would decrease each year the contract is in effect. If the operation proves to be an economic burden for either IPS or PLA, the contract could be terminated after year two.

Far Eastside Success Initiative

Francis Scott Key serves as the centerpiece of another initiative approved by Commissioners. The Far Eastside Success Initiative is an all-encompassing community partnership anchored by Francis Scott Key. Inspired by the successful efforts of Harlem Children’s Zone, Tangelo Park Program and East Durham Children’s Initiative, this program will provide parents and children with an abundance of ongoing and intentional community support. With the support of the Glick Family Foundation and the United Way of Central Indiana, education, health and workforce organizations will ensure opportunities to young people from childbirth through school and into career paths.

“The Glick Philanthropies believe that every child should have the opportunity to succeed,” said Marianne Glick, Chairman of the Board for the Glick Family Foundation. “This vision can be realized on the far eastside of Indianapolis. Indianapolis Public Schools’ innovative partnership with Phalen Leadership Academy at Francis Scott Key School 103 will help create the conditions that are needed for children to reach their full potential.”

To ensure students in the Far Eastside attend the school closest to their home, the boundaries for Francis Scott Key and George S. Buck School 94 will be adjusted slightly. This proposed exchange would impact approximately 200 students.

Emma Donnan/Charter Schools USA

The Board of School Commissioners voted to approve a second Innovation Network School agreement that may serve as a blueprint for returning schools from state takeover. IPS and Charter Schools USA (CSUSA) will enter an agreement to create a K-6 onsite feeder school for Emma Donnan Middle School. This partnership is based on the goals of increasing enrollment in the district and the eventual return of Emma Donnan to IPS. Emma Donnan is currently operated by CSUSA under a Turnaround Agreement with the State Board of Education. CSUSA and IPS will share responsibility for recruiting at least 300 students to enroll in the new feeder school, boosting the number of students in the district.

CSUSA will operate the Emma Donnan K-6 school with autonomy, but will have accountability obligations to IPS. IPS will share financial responsibility for transportation based on funding the district receives for transporting those students. The amount of per-pupil funding provided to CSUSA by IPS will fluctuate based on the state funding formula and the attendance count at the school.

Academic achievement is another key point of the agreement; a series of ISTEP+ and accountability grade benchmarks must be met to keep the contract active. Additionally, a series of higher achievement benchmarks could be met by CSUSA, lengthening the life of the contract.

If the Emma Donnan feeder school agreement is still in action after five years and then extended for an additional five years, CSUSA and IPS will petition the state to return the school back to full IPS control. In the event this collaboration is successful in returning Emma Donnan to IPS, it would likely serve as a model for returning other Turnaround Agreement schools to the district.

Commissioner Odle stressed that it’s important for the public to remember that this is a good thing for IPS. If not for this partnership Charter Schools USA could open its own elementary program at Emma Donnan and recruit IPS students. Through the Innovation Network agreement Charter Schools USA will be held accountable for performance standards and is responsible for helping the school transition back to IPS in the coming years.

Career Technology Center/Simon Youth Foundation

Commissioners also approved an exciting new partnership with the Simon Youth Foundation to create a school in Circle Centre Mall. This state-of-the-art site will be a Simon Youth Academy operated and staffed by IPS. Under the guidance of the Career Technology Center, high school students will have the opportunity to participate in an engaging non-traditional school model with an emphasis on work-based learning and career readiness.

We look forward to the bright future of these innovative schools, merging the resources and shared visions of IPS and our educational partners. Our new schools will serve as models for continued collaboration as we strive to create additional opportunities that are exciting and rewarding for our students!

Marian University Leadership Collaboration
Commissioners also approved an agreement with Marian University for an academy of Teaching and Learning Leadership. IPS and Marian will collaborate on the recruitment, development, and education of prospective and current school leaders, and conduct and provide research on effective leadership approaches to student learning. This collaboration has the objective of recruiting an annual IPS cohort of 20-30 School Leadership Participants in the first year.

Public Comment Policy

Commissioners approved a revised public comment policy to promote increased transparency, greater efficiency, and enhanced opportunities for public involvement in meetings. Those wishing to speak must register online on the School Board page, or by contacting the board office by phone or email, no later than 12:00 p.m. on the day preceding the scheduled meeting. Required registration information shall include the name and contact information of the registrant, the name of the organization (if any) that the person represents, and the topic to be discussed.

Special Recognitions

Dr. Teresa Baker, Principal of Thomas D. Gregg School 15, gave special recognition on behalf of the school to the Facilities Management Division for their work in designing and constructing the Pacers Mission Control Room. The Control Room has sparked student interest in aviation-related careers and given teachers new ways to engage their students by incorporating aviation into their lessons. Tom Cox, group leader of telecom, accepted the recognition on behalf of FMD.

The Board recognized Parent Te’Lane Alexander for her dedication to education and her tireless commitment to Stephen Foster School 67. She has worked closely with the Parent Involvement Educator, teachers, the principal and other parents. She has attended workshops to help improve the school. She has also worked with students and assisted the classroom teachers during lessons. She is a positive force in the school and has helped the school expand opportunities for parental partnerships. Mrs. Alexander strongly supports education and is now enrolled in college coursework herself.

The Board recognized the Francis W. Parker School 56 PTA board for the support they provide to both Francis W. Parker and other IPS schools. They advocate for all students at the school, not just their own. They provide funding for projects, supplies and field trips. They fielded questions about IPS as the parent voice at the first Showcase of Schools. Additionally, they have encouraged new PTAs at Joyce Kilmer 69, James Russell Lowell School 51 and George Washington Carver School 87, and supported PTA leadership at William Penn School 49 and Center for Inquiry Schools 27 and 84. Francis W. Parker PTA board members are Mary Ann Hack, Mashariki Jywanza, Tracy Heaton de Martinez, Sarah Garner and Angel Edmundson.

The Board recognized Washington Irving School 14 volunteer Sue Brown for her dedication to the school and the way she exemplifies invitational practices. She serves in the main office as the receptionist, where she is the smile that starts the day for many parents and students. She is the friendly voice families get on the phone with answers. She covers for the office staff during lunch breaks and helps keep the office running smoothly. She shows up every day and stays until the students are dismissed, donating her time to support education and not asking for anything in return.