At the February 17th Operations Briefing Session, the Indianapolis Public Schools Board of School Commissioners received updates on a series of projects regarding transition and transformation in our schools. Dr. Wanda H. Legrand, Deputy Superintendent for Academics, and Greg Newlin, Academic Improvement Officer for the Magnet Learning Community, shared information on the Shortridge High School transition to an International Baccalaureate curriculum. Current Shortridge students met with counselors and their parents before submitting commitment forms declaring their school choice for the fall. More than 200 students chose to stay at Shortridge, with another 130 committing to Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School. Nearly all of the remaining student body committed to other IPS schools. To date, enrollment at the school for the 2015-2016 school year exceeds the number of current high school students being served at Shortridge. The next steps for the Shortridge IB transition include selecting a principal, deploying a targeted marketing and recruitment campaign to share the message and mission of the new school model, finalizing magnet lottery selections, and allocating staff appropriate to student enrollment.
The Board discussed options to potentially enter into an agreement with Charter Schools USA (CSUSA) for a new collaboration regarding Emma Donnan Middle School. This proposed partnership would create a K-8 school fitting the requirements of Public Law 1321 and allowing CSUSA and IPS to shape the future of the current takeover school as an Innovation Network School with guidance from the State Board of Education. All current Emma Donnan students would be invited to maintain their enrollment while IPS and CSUSA would recruit additional students. This agreement would be a first of its kind and approval from the State Board of Education would be needed. The State Board of Education has requested an update from IPS and Charter Schools USA in March.
A lease agreement for the currently vacant Susan Roll Leach School 68 was presented to the commissioners for consideration. If approved, IPS would lease the building to Alternatives in Education, Inc. with the intent of reaching an Innovation Network School agreement by July 2016. Alternatives in Education currently operates a charter school in the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center.
The superintendent recommended the purchase of a college and career readiness platform to commissioners. Naviance provides a range of services to students including SAT prep assistance, a scholarship research and application database, and tools to identify personal strengths and interests as students dive into the career and college search. Guidance counselors would have access to document sharing services which increase the speed and reduce the cost of sending transcripts and applications to schools.