Fiscal responsibility was a prominent theme at the IPS
Board of School Commissioners January 27 Action Session. The district’s
quarterly report outlined projected to actual revenues and expenditures for
2014 and projected revenues and expenditures for 2015.
The district has been diligent about reducing expenses;
efforts to reduce central office salaries saved more than $1.5 million in
recurring expenses. Capital funds actual expenditures for 2014 were less than
actual revenue with scheduled projects being completed, and there was $3.5
million less spending on contracted transportation. All of these savings
occurred as the district continued to experience decreases in government
The funding formula was a key point of the legislative
update presented by the district’s partners at Faegre Baker Daniels. Our
legislative advocates are working diligently to educate lawmakers on
misconceptions regarding funding at IPS and sharing how funding from the
Complexity Index is used to support important programs including Special
Education and English as a Second Language.
The Board of School Commissioners approved calendars for
the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years. These calendars are the product of
several rounds of stakeholder feedback. Each school year includes five
professional development days, two teacher preparation days before the start of
the fall semester, and retains the two-week breaks in fall and spring.
Thanksgiving break is reduced to three days in light of two-week breaks in
October and December/January.
Commissioners endorsed continued conversation between IPS
and Charter Schools USA on a potential plan to ease the transition
process as we welcome takeover schools back to the district. Superintendent Dr.
Lewis D. Ferebee explained to commissioners that the conversation was in the
early stages, but wanted to confirm their support for exploring the option
further. Dr. Ferebee described it as a way to think differently about the
intervention. A notable point of the idea is that no schools would close.
The Board approved a proposal from the Phalen Leadership
Academies for an Innovation Network School. The proposed school would use a
blended learning model for English Language Arts and Math, as well as five-week
enrichment courses in a variety of fields including debate, entrepreneurship,
music, robotics, and more. An immediate next step is to select a potential site
for the school within IPS.
Commissioners voted to move forward with a new contract
for the Turnaround Teacher Teams (T3) initiative. Teacher leaders in three IPS
schools receive training in an effort to provide additional professional
development resources to our educators. T3 teachers participate in weekly one-on-one coaching sessions, and a three-day professional development event this summer
will prepare these educational leaders for the second year of the program.
IPS was closed for two days in January due to extremely
cold temperatures. In an effort to prevent any resulting financial hardships
for our classified employees, the Board of School Commissioners approved the
use of sick days as an additional option for receiving payment for those missed