At the December 17 Action Session, the Indianapolis Public Schools Board of School Commissioners discussed and voted on several initiatives regarding Innovation and continuing quality services for students and staff.

Board Recognition

Shortridge Magnet High School recommended the recognition of Marie Lowe for her commitment to serving our students. With her kindness and creativity, she organized and chaperoned a Freshman Lock-in, Homecoming and Prom. Her generosity is exemplified in her project called “The Shoppe,” which is a labor of love with her sister and a network of other Indianapolis parents. “The Shoppe” provides uniforms along with professional and prom attire to students for low or no cost. Marie also makes time to learn about classroom work, and she’s actively involved in extracurricular activities for her son.

Innovation Network Policy

Commissioners voted to approve the adoption of a revised policy regarding Innovation Network Schools. This policy replaces the previous Innovation Network Policy, as the language has been updated to align district implementation of Innovation Network Schools with recent legislative changes regarding the Innovation Network. The revised document outlines operational definitions, Board approval requirements, governance, policies and procedures required in an Innovation Network agreement and the requirement for administrative guidelines for implementation. The entire policy can be found here.

Innovation Network Restart Model
The Board approved the district’s proposed model regarding school restart within the Innovation Network; this model would apply to reconstitution of schools which have been consistently failing. This proposal had been previously discussed and revised to reflect feedback from Commissioners including language requiring school principals receiving two consecutive failing grades to present a school improvement plan to the Board of School Commissioners, detailed guidance on required content for the school community engagement meetings principals would lead in the second year of unacceptable school performance, direction for IPS administration to collect feedback through community meetings in year three of failure, and providing a report to the Board on collected feedback.

Prior to the vote, Commissioners discussed the notification process for schools eligible for an Innovation restart. The proposed model includes proactive levels of communication with school leaders, families and community members to ensure school communities have the opportunity to engage in initiatives to foster progress before a restart occurs.

“I hope the public, parents and community members understand how big a move this is,” said Vice President Sam Odle. “Most parents know more about how their TV is rated, how their car is rated or how their restaurants are rated than they know about how their school is rated. What we’re doing is putting in place the responsibility of the district and that principal to communicate to those parents how that school is doing so they know the quality of the school they’re child is attending and what we’re doing to improve the quality of the education their child is receiving. I think this is very proactive, and it’s going to be a lot of work by the administration and principals, but I think it’s an important thing for us to do.”

Continuing Services

Two initiatives which continuously provide exemplary service to our students and staff were approved for new agreements with the district. Commissioners voted to renew an agreement with Peace Learning Center, which has provided peaceful and positive conflict resolution programming in IPS schools for 18 years. An extension of the district’s partnership with Teach for America, which places corps members in high need vacancies and provides continuous professional development for these transitioning professionals, was also approved by the Board.