WHEREAS, Amos Brown became an institution in broadcasting and print journalism for his vigilant advocacy and determination to always ask the tough questions; and
WHEREAS, Amos Brown was a tireless advocate for those who were voiceless, marginalized, and underrepresented; and
WHEREAS, Amos Brown was a staunch defender of public education and a champion for Indianapolis Public Schools and its students and families; and
WHEREAS, the Board of School Commissioners appreciates the lifelong effort of Amos Brown to facilitate public discourse, and to elevate community awareness of important issues;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of School Commissioners hereby recognizes the substantial contributions that Amos Brown has made to the students and families of Indianapolis Public Schools and the City of Indianapolis.
Commissioners learned more about the district’s work toward student-based budget allocations from Chief Financial Manager Weston Young and David Rosenberg of Education Resource Strategies (ERS), the consultant helping to implement this budget strategy in IPS. This new financial structure is designed to align with the Board’s Core Commitments & Beliefs, stating “District resources are allocated fairly and equitably among schools through the use of weighted student funding,” and IPS Strategic Plan 2015, stating “IPS will determine the most fair and equitable distribution of funds across the district by 2017, as measured by district data.”
During the current stage of the process, IPS financial leaders are working to define and quantify equity challenges within the district. Additional goals include assessing schools’ readiness for the student-based model, defining school-based design flexibilities and creating a weighted funding model to determine how money is distributed to each school.
Next steps include developing an implementation plan for the budget model to ensure a successful transition for schools. Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee and Commissioners agreed it is important to have a clearly defined bailout plan for schools that might encounter obstacles in their first year of the new budget system.
Innovation Officer Aleesia Johnson shared an update with Commissioners on the district’s plans regarding Autonomous schools. The Board approved an initial framework for autonomy in October outlining broad parameters and pathways for traditional (district-managed) schools to convert to autonomous (site-managed) or innovation (partner-managed) schools; now the work is underway to select the pilot cohort for this student achievement strategy.
IPS principals are invited to apply for the pilot cohort if they choose. To be considered for autonomy, schools must exhibit organizational capacity as well as stakeholders’ desire to become autonomous. A school’s leadership team must demonstrate the support of families, community partners and employees to ensure success as an Autonomous school. School leaders who submit an intent letter may be invited for an interview with district leadership to discuss what their future would look like as the head of an Autonomous school. Further, they may be invited to complete the full application process based on the interview results. Schools applying to convert to autonomy would receive district guidance and support throughout their transition.
While many schools may be ready for autonomy, the district plans to start with a pilot cohort of six to eight Autonomous schools. To maintain a diverse group, at least two of these schools will be elementary, two will be secondary and two will be magnet programs/choice schools. Interviews and selection are expected to conclude this winter.
Commissioners also discussed the process of restarting an underperforming IPS school as an Innovation Network school. Ms. Johnson outlined the district’s recommended timeline for addressing achievement gaps in traditional schools. A school receiving an accountability grade of “F” for three consecutive years or a school deemed by the district as chronically low-performing would be eligible to restart as an Innovation Network school. In the first and second years a school receives an “F,” the school would receive targeted supports from the district as the principal implements an improvement plan. If the school continued to receive a failing grade, district leaders could discuss the school’s eligibility for an Innovation restart. Other options for a consistently underperforming school could include reconstitution, transition to a magnet program/choice school or potential closure of the school.