At the August 25 Agenda Review Session, the Indianapolis
Public Schools Board of School Commissioners reviewed updates on a group of
initiatives intended to improve student achievement.

US2020 

Last year, Indianapolis was one of seven cities nationwide
chosen to participate in the pilot program of the US2020 initiative. The goal
of US2020 is to have 1 million STEM mentors nationwide by the year 2020, and
Indianapolis is one of seven cities selected for the pilot program of this
initiative. Laura Dodds, Executive Director of Techpoint Foundation for Youth
(the project management team for the initiative), presented an update on the
progress and goals of the Indianapolis US2020 project.

In the spring of 2015, Techpoint had 7 volunteers in 6
schools, providing 106 hours of mentoring service to 60 students. By the end of
the 2015-2016 school year, Techpoint expects to provide 600 hours of service to
225 students through 40 volunteers in 6 schools. Techpoint is committed to
building a robust roster of volunteers from STEM-related careers to work with
students and inspire new career paths, with the eventual goal of serving
students in all IPS schools.

ELEVATE Indianapolis

Jim Shaffer, CEO of ELEVATE Indianapolis, presented an
informational update on a planned partnership with IPS. ELEVATE is a year-round
program providing consistent mentoring opportunities to promote student success
in all areas of life. The pipeline structure of ELEVATE focuses on steady
supports for students in 4th through 12th grades. ELEVATE
employs a diverse team of teacher/mentors who make a multi-year commitment to
providing support to their students at absolutely any time they are needed.

“What impressed me about that 24/7/365 support is that the
mentors help the students with housing and work,” said Superintendent Dr. Lewis
D. Ferebee. “They provide assistance to their students around the clock, and
some of the stories that come from these relationships are incredible.”

Arsenal Technical High School has been identified as a pilot
school for ELEVATE Indianapolis. Arsenal Tech has a feeder school pattern that
fits the ELEVATE model, but participation in the program would ultimately be at
the discretion of elementary and middle school principals. 

Innovation Schools 

Innovation Officer Aleesia Johnson informed Commissioners
that the school year is off to a strong start on all Innovation Network
campuses in IPS; enrollment is at 1347 students and climbing, and retention of
students is steady in each school. She also commended IPS services – including
transportation, IT, and food services – for their clear and consistent
communication with the Innovation Network partners, which has yielded many
positive experiences. “I think it’s a strong indication of what’s possible
when we’re all working together toward a common outcome,” said Johnson.

Mariama Carson, founder of Global Preparatory
Academy, provided an update to Commissioners on her proposal for an Innovation
Network school to open in the fall of 2016. Global Prep Indy would be a dual
language school, with equal time spent focused on lessons in English and
Spanish.

Literacy across all content areas would be taught in both
languages by a two-person teaching team in each classroom. Small group learning
is another cornerstone of the Global Prep model. Global Prep would have an 8
a.m. – 4 p.m. instructional day with an additional hour for enrichment 3 days
per week. Before and after-school care would be available for families.

Preschool Program

Curriculum Officer Tammy Bowman offered the latest
information on district preschool enrollment. 645 students are currently
enrolled in IPS general education preschool, leaving 202 openings districtwide.
15 IPS sites received Level 3 certification from the state Paths to Quality
program, and now qualify to receive students holding vouchers from the On My
Way Pre-K initiative. With this certification, IPS has the potential to bring
in as much as $270,000 in revenue through the voucher program.

Dr. Ferebee reminded Commissioners and the public that IPS
is open for business with preschool, and all 4-year-olds are welcome to enjoy
the district’s robust pre-k offerings.

Technology Refresh Implementation

Commissioners received an update on the district’s
technology upgrade initiative from Information Technology Officer Laura
Larimer. The goal of this initiative is to ensure each school’s technology
offerings help to align with the district’s Core Commitments and Beliefs and
support blended learning as the district retires aging and outdated equipment.

A baseline assessment of each school’s devices and
technological offerings was completed earlier this year. Each school will
receive funding reflective of their enrollment to replenish their technology
supply. Schools determined to be below average in their device-to-student ratio
will receive additional technology funding for this project.

The IT team has determined an array of options – including
laptops, tablets, software and more – for each principal to order based on
their school’s needs. Each school’s order will be placed at the discretion of
the principal and then reviewed by IT for quality assurance. Consultations will
be offered to ensure each principal is receiving the best possible upgrade for
their school.

Board Vacancy

Board President Diane Arnold shared an update on the process
to fill a vacancy in the District 1 seat previously held by Commissioner
Caitlin Hannon. The Board is required to fill the seat within 30 days of
Hannon’s resignation. Four qualified candidates submitted resumes to the Board;
they will be interviewed in a public meeting Wednesday, August 26.
Commissioners will vote on the new Board member at Thursday’s Action Session.

 

Also on Thursday, the Board of School Commissioners is set
to take action on the core contents (goals, objectives and strategies) of the
new strategic plan, which would guide district operations for the next three
years.