Board recognition for March 19, 2015. Under the new streamlined Indianapolis Public Schools meeting schedule, the Board of School Commissioners held an Action Session on March 19, 2015. The consulting services agreement with Mass Insight Education was approved by the Board. This is a partnership formed to drive our Transformation Zone (TZ) model at George Washington Community High School, Northwest Community High School and their primary feeder elementary schools.

Stakeholder input from our staff, families and community members will be an essential component of the initial phase, which is intended to assess the readiness of IPS for the TZ model. Mass Insight Engagement Director Ami Magunia explained to Commissioners that a community partner group and parent focus groups will inform the planning process as we work together to assess what works in our schools and where there are opportunities for improvement.

“We need to own this work,” said Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee. “Part of owning this work is ensuring the planning happens within our community. We’re giving ownership to the people in our neighborhoods, and we’re excited about the opportunity to lock arms with businesses, clergy, community leaders and other neighbors ready to help us through the process.”

Objectives of Phase II include developing infrastructure and strategies to ensure success at the TZ schools. The final phases of the TZ model, which take us through July 2018, focus on strategic development, growth and sustainability. As an alternative to the state turnaround programs, Mass Insight will partner with IPS and provide support to identify best practices for each school at each step of the process. State funding will be used to compensate Mass Insight for this service to our district.

The work is projected to take three years, but could move more quickly in IPS. Ms. Magunia provided an example from Mass Insight’s work with Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation where the Transformation Zone model progressed nearly twice as fast as originally anticipated and has shown marked success.

Commissioners approved the proposed 2015-2016 budget, which was discussed in a public hearing earlier in March. The anticipated General Fund is $232,700,000. The Board also approved a 12-year plan for gradual replacement of the IPS bus fleet, ensuring continued safety and limited maintenance costs over time.

Board President Diane Arnold, on behalf of the entire Board, presented to Ms. Tisha Hill, Sales Representative for LIDS Team Sports, a certificate of recognition thanking LIDS Team Sports for their generous donation of apparel and merchandise for our schools and students.

Their contribution of sports apparel and licensed sports merchandise with a retail value of over $250,000 will help support our growing K-8 athletics programs and provide incentives and rewards for students in the classroom. In IPS, we want to get our students moving, academically and athletically. We are working to ensure a healthy, active lifestyle is a part of the education of every student. The generous support of local companies such as LIDS makes the expansion of athletics at the K-8 level possible and helps us to achieve that goal.