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At
the May 28 Board Action Session, the Indianapolis Public Schools Board of
School Commissioners voted on items including expanding our Innovation Network
Schools offerings and school safety. District leaders also made an exciting
announcement regarding teacher compensation.

Commissioners
approved a new policy clarifying the acceptable use of physical intervention
while supervising students. This policy explains that the Board recognizes in
some circumstances it is necessary to use limited physical force to ensure
student safety. While the new policy clearly outlines appropriate circumstances
for employees to use their best judgment in the use of limited force,
Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee explained that administrative guidelines
will be drafted to inform employees’ actions while adhering to the policy.
School-based stakeholders will be part of the drafting process to ensure best
practices for realistic situations are included in these guidelines.

“It’s
important not to get too specific with policy,” said Commissioner Kelly Bentley
“employees’ hands can be tied by policy and it’s hard to change. I agree it’s
important to involve our teachers in the drafting process for administrative
guidelines.”

“I’m
hopeful this will give better clarity to our staff and teachers who sometimes
find themselves in very difficult moments in the classroom,” added Commissioner
Caitlin Hannon.

The
policy puts IPS in line with many of our neighboring districts, which have very
similar policies enabling employees to use their best judgment in supervision
and protection. You can read our policy in full here.

The
Board approved three new Innovation Network Schools in two IPS buildings. KIPP
Indy, which currently leases space in Julian Coleman School 110, will operate
an elementary and middle school out of the building. Meanwhile, Enlace Academy,
which leases a portion of the Gambold building, will have an IPS elementary
school utilizing that space. These new agreements will increase IPS enrollment
by more than 1000 students!

“I
think this is a tremendous opportunity to deepen our relationships with these
partners,” said Dr. Ferebee, “and to extend more partnerships like these in the
future.”

Commissioners
approved a partnership plan for the IPS Career Technology Center (CTC) to
provide Construction Technology opportunities in areas with competitive wages
for our career-focused scholars. CTC is forging partnerships with Duke Realty,
Habitat for Humanity and DirectEmployers Foundation. Duke will provide student
programming in both commercial and residential construction to engage our
students in HVAC, Architecture, Manufacturing and Welding. CTC students will
have an opportunity to build a home in our community with Habitat for Humanity,
while DirectEmployers will provide training and support for our CTC teachers.

An
agreement with CareDox approved by Commissioners will ease the medical records
process for our families. CareDox is a cloud services system specifically for
medical records, allowing families to avoid the paperwork that comes with
filing health information at school every year. Students’ immunizations,
physical exam results, and nurses visits would be stored securely and in
compliance with HIPAA regulations in the cloud. Other healthcare information
could be linked to the system as well to ensure our families can easily access
necessary documentation at any time.

After
the Action Session, Dr. Ferebee, Commissioner Sam Odle, and IPS Teacher of the
Year Tina Ahlgren announced an upcoming increase in teacher compensation at
IPS.

“Many years have gone by with IPS teachers not having the
opportunity to have access to a raise to address the cost of living for
themselves and their families,” said Dr. Ferebee. “I’m proud to be a
superintendent that is part of a team that is finally addressing this issue and
getting it done.”

The specifics of the salary increase have not yet been
determined, but the IPS leadership team and representatives of the Indianapolis
Education Association bargaining unit hope to have the details in place by the
beginning of August. 

“We must change the district if we want to make these things
happen,” said Commissioner Odle.  “So we ask for the whole community’s
support as we go through this because myIPS, to us, is not just a slogan. It
really is how we think the community has to think of IPS. It’s all of us; these
children are all of our charges, and we have to change the district so that we
can give them the best possible opportunity for education. We will not accept
anything less, and we don’t think the city of Indianapolis would accept
anything less.”

A focus on finances and efficient operations will be key for
summer discussions of teacher salaries and the district budget. IPS will need
to find a way to increase educator pay with less state funding, and we are
determined to make it work to ensure our talented and experienced teachers
remain in the district. 

“The more I thought about all of these great teachers
leaving,” said Ahlgren, “the more I thought about my own son, Elijah, and I
worried about his future in IPS. I live in IPS, I’ve spent my entire career in
IPS; I want it to be not just myIPS, but I want it to be Elijah’s IPS. And I
think that this is a great first step in making sure that those great teachers
can stay.” 

We look forward to a fantastic 2015-2016 school year with
more opportunities for students, a revitalized commitment to safety, and the
return of many amazing teachers!