The Indianapolis Public Schools Board of School
Commissioners voted on several exciting items at the Thursday, August 27 Action
Session. The board voted on increasing teacher salaries, the approval of the
new district Strategic Plan, and the addition of a new Commissioner.

“There’s no better use of our very limited resources than to
compensate our teachers,” said Board President Diane Arnold. “They are truly
what makes our district successful; they are the home away from home for many
of our children. We look forward to working with them and retaining as many of
the best teachers as we can.”

Commissioners approved an agreement to raise teacher
salaries, making good on a promise announced by the Board and Superintendent
Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee earlier this year. Starting salaries for all teachers is
raised from $35,684 to $40,000, which is a 12.1% increase from the previous
base salary. Teachers currently earning less than $40,000 will have their pay
immediately bumped to that level.

The maximum base salary for teachers will increase nearly
3%, from $57,702 to $59,400. In an effort to increase retention among teachers
who are “hitting their stride” in their careers, teachers rated Effective or
Highly Effective in pay steps 3 through 12 will receive a 5-10% raise. These
teachers, currently with starting salaries ranging from $38,468 to $52,004,
will be eligible for base salaries from $40,200 to $53,200.

“We want to retain the best and the brightest,“ said
Indianapolis Education Association President Rhondalyn Cornett, “and one of the
ways to do that is through compensation. Talking to the teachers since this
tentative agreement has been reached, they feel like IPS does care about them
and wants them to stay here.” Collective bargaining for classified
(non-licensed) staff begins in September.

Commissioners also voted in a show of support for the new
IPS Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan development process was informed by more
than 6,000 voices heard during the superintendent’s listening tour, visits to
IPS schools, meetings with focus groups, and analytical reviews of district
data. Three diverse stakeholder committees worked for many months this year to
develop goals and objectives in the areas of Teaching and Learning, Efficient
Operations, and Family and Community – all in an effort to promote greater
school autonomy and accountability, more efficient business practices,
strategic efforts to recruit talent and develop leadership, and a storefront of
support services for our community.

Strategic Plan drafting committee members collaborated to
create goals which align with the district’s Core Commitments and Beliefs,
developed by the Board of School Commissioners and adopted in March 2015. The
core contents of the plan outline the goals and objectives developed by the
committees, as well as the strategies and key indicators associated with each
goal area. This will provide direction for the district while allowing us the
flexibility to meet evolving needs. The core contents of the Strategic Plan can
be found here.

“We want to make sure that we’re giving more academic
choices to our students, more advanced placement classes, more rigorous
educational opportunities,” said Board Vice President Sam Odle. “We also want
to make sure that we have equity among our schools – that each school is being
appropriately funded to ensure that each child has an equal chance for a
high-quality education. I think the plan points us in that direction; we’re
confident in Dr. Ferebee and his team to execute that plan and get results.”

The Board selected a new Commissioner to fill the vacancy
left after the recent resignation of District 1 Commissioner Caitlin Hannon.
Three qualified candidates were interviewed by Commissioners in a public
meeting Wednesday; Michael O’Connor was selected by Commissioners today to
serve District 1 until the next election in November 2016.

O’Connor is the Director of State Government Affairs for Eli
Lilly and Company; he previously served as Chief Deputy Mayor and Chief of
Staff for Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson. He has close ties with the United
Way of Central Indiana (UWCI) and Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana. He
served as Vice Chair of UWCI’s “Ready to Learn, Ready to Earn” Committee and
Chair of the United Way’s “Success by Six” program. O’Connor is also on
Goodwill’s educational initiatives board. He will be sworn in at the Board Work
Session on September 15.

Other developments at the August 27 Action Session include a
pair of agreements to contract IPS resources to educational partners. Enlace
Academy, which operates an Innovation Network School, will contract food services
from the district. Commissioners also approved an agreement to provide
transportation services for the students of Indy Met High School. The Board
approved the sale of another IPS surplus property, Minnie Hartmann School 78.
The property, located at 3734 East Vermont Street, will be sold to JHBCC
Properties, LLC, for $400,000.