–Sept. 30, 2016 

An inspiring new volunteer initiative,
significant revisions to our choice enrollment lottery process and a new
Innovation Network school‎ were discussed at our September Board of School
Commissioners Agenda Review and Action sessions.


Choice Logic Proposal

Commissioners approved
proposed changes to the choice lottery drafted in alignment with guiding
principles outlined by the Board’s Core Commitments and Beliefs: “Providing
many school choice options helps families find the school best matched to their
child’s talents, needs, interests and unique learning styles,” and “Schools are
diverse, vibrant and welcoming communities.”


Following a clear directive
from the Board to draft narrow and uniform proximity priority zones, the IPS Central
Services team presented half-mile zones surrounding 12 of our K-8 Choice
elementary schools: Center for Inquiry 2, 27, 70 and 84; Edison School of the Arts School 47; Ernie Pyle
School 90
; Francis W. Parker
School 56
School 19
; George Washington
Carver School 87
; Rousseau
McClellan School 91
; Theodore
Potter School 74
; and IPS/Butler
Lab School 60


Half-mile circular boundaries were drawn
from the front door of each school, and the federally defined census blocks of
each home falling in that circle were incorporated into the proximity boundary
– meaning families living in these areas receive additional weight when
applying to the IPS choice lottery.


While our choice schools are not intended
to replace the neighborhood schools available to every IPS family, proximity
boundaries are important to ensure students who live extremely close to a choice
school have an opportunity to attend that school.


“I think this a step in the right
direction,” said Commissioner Gayle Cosby. “Magnet (Choice) schools were borne
out of the Civil Rights Movement, and they were intended to help integrate
schools that were struggling with diversity. I hope that this is the beginning
of a continuing critical look at our magnet (choice) enrollment.”


Commissioners echoed sentiments that
while reducing the size of the boundaries does impact some families living near
our choice schools, it also increases equity by opening additional seats to
students who previously would have landed on a waitlist for our most popular


“This is an attempt to balance the
fairness to families that live near the school with fairness to the district as
a whole,” added Commissioner Kelly Bentley.


Siblings of students already attending
one of these schools will still receive sibling priority. Another approved
change to the choice lottery process intends to improve service to our families
through a multi-round selection process. Students will receive an initial seat
offer in the first round, and families may opt to apply again in rounds two and
three for a chance at a preferred program if they did not receive their top
choice in the first round.  The round-one offer will be held for their
student unless they accept another seat from subsequent rounds. You can see the
full approved proposal, including detailed information on the former and new
proximity boundaries, here.


in ensuring members of your neighborhood organization or community group are
fully informed about our Choice lottery and new boundaries? IPS administrators
are available to speak at your fall meetings and answer any questions you may
have on these exciting changes! To schedule a speaker at your next meeting,
please contact ipspublicrelationsdivision@myips.org or call 317.226.4000.


Attendance Initiative Update

Student Services Officer Lisa Brenner
shared an update with commissioners on the successful initiatives underway in
our district to increase healthy attendance habits.


Studies show a direct link between
chronic absences (missing 18 or more days of school per year) and lower
graduation rates. IPS is committed to supporting students to develop
consistency in attendance. We are in our second year of partnership with Attendance Works – we are the first school district in the state to join the pledge of
this national initiative promoting awareness of this important topic. Our
Student Services team has eight targeted strategies intended to build healthy
habits, including monthly data monitoring to identify at-risk students,
personal outreach to increase family awareness, targeted support interventions
for students who are regularly absent, and a brag tag initiative where students
receive incentives for excellent attendance.

After one full year of this program,
attendance is already on the rise at IPS. Districtwide, we saw at 17 percent
reduction in chronic absences from the 2014-2015 school year to the 2015-2016
school year. In the same time frame, at-risk absences (missing 10-17 days per
school year) dropped by 8 percent. Special recognition was given to Laura Baker’s
fourth-fifth grade class at George Washington Carver Montessori School 87,
which had 23 weeks of perfect classroom attendance last year, and they’re
looking to break their record this year!


Graduation Policy Revision 

In response to new legislation, IPS
administrators recommended a revision to the district graduation policy, which
was approved by the Board. The previous minimum credit requirement for
graduating seniors was 42 credits, while the state minimum is 40 credits. A new
state law requires districts to maintain the same minimum credit requirement as
the state; the new policy approved by commissioners reflects that change.
Additional revisions were made to policy language clarifying that special
education students who complete all requirements as specified in their
Individualized Education Program (IEP) and who receive recommendation from
their case conference may be awarded a diploma or certificate of completion in
alignment with state law.


Purdue Polytechnic Agreement Term Sheet

Commissioners approved an Innovation
Network agreement for the incorporation of Purdue
Polytechnic High School
into the IPS community beginning with the 2017-2018
school year. Purdue Polytechnic will feature a
work-based learning environment focused on technology, humanities, math and
science. Students would experience flexible terms, mentoring and career support
services, along with a challenging curriculum based on problem-solving.
Teachers at the school will receive the full support of Purdue University,
including unique professional development opportunities.


School leaders have shared
that Purdue is committed to supporting college and career opportunities for
minority students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields.
Additionally, Purdue will share professional development and programming for all
IPS employees as part of the expanded partnership with the university.
The intent of Purdue Polytechnic is to complement – not compete with – the STEM
programs currently ‎being offered at existing IPS schools.


Purdue Polytechnic will
begin serving students in ninth grade, with plans to expand by one grade level
each year until reaching Grade 12. State per-pupil funding will pass through
IPS to Purdue Polytechnic, while federal funding will go directly to the
school. Beginning in the second year of partnership, IPS will receive $25,000
annually to offset incurred costs related to the school. Purdue Polytechnic’s
permanent location is expected to be in the Mallory Building at 3000 E. Washington
St., but will likely be located at 201 S. Rural St. during the first year
because of renovations required in the Mallory facility.


Additional details of the Innovation
Network agreement can be found here


Real Men Read Initiative

IPS strives to provide a growing number
of opportunities to support student achievement in literacy. Real Men Read is a
new mentoring program initiated by IPS, designed to inspire students and build
literacy skills by establishing meaningful relationships between children and
caring adults.


Volunteers from our supportive community
commit to eight hours of service throughout the year – including one training
session and seven classroom visits to read with their students. IPS literacy
leaders have identified 27 fourth-grade classrooms to be paired with a positive
male role model. This series of sessions is designed to get nearly 700 of our
students excited about reading! Students will receive a copy of each book they
read with their mentor — for a total of seven new books over the course of the
school year! 


If you’re interested in becoming a Real
Men Read mentor, contact IPS Literacy Coordinator Allyson Peterkin at peterkam@myips.org or 317.226.3084. Read more about the program here.



Legislative Agenda


Commissioners also approved advocacy
goals for Indianapolis Public Schools, which are outlined in our 2017
legislative agenda. As always, state funding is a focal point to ensure our
district receives the necessary supports for student achievement. There are
uncertainties with the 2017 budget bill, including the state’s inconsistency in
meeting revenue targets, and the potential for the governor’s race to shift
budget priorities.


Our partners at the Indiana Urban Schools Association are
proposing a baseline funding increase of 9 percent over the biennium, plus an
annual increase of $65 million yearly in complexity index funding – the state’s
allocation of additional money to support students facing challenges such as poverty
or disabilities.


Continued support and clarification of
Innovation Network Schools legislation would ensure our innovation office can
support the expansion of our unique offerings to families. IPS hopes to
see the creation of a new grant for Innovation Network Schools to fund their
own startup and implementation costs; current funding comes from the IPS
general fund, which could provide additional support for other IPS schools.
Desired legislation clarifications include language indicating that Innovation
schools may operate in buildings not previously used as schools, and that any
Innovation Network school may have a priority attendance area. As with our
choice programs, a priority attendance area ensures those students living
closest to Innovation Network schools may have preference to attend a
high-quality school in their own neighborhood.


The entire 2017 legislative agenda can be
found here.



Kids Dance Outreach

Commissioners and meeting
participants were delighted by the student performers of Kids
Dance Outreach
(KDO), a strong community
partner providing high-level dance programs inside our schools. Since 2012,
3,500 students across Indianapolis have participated in this program.


The vision of KDO can be
summed up in one phrase: the art of dance can make positive changes in the
lives of young people. This year, Kids Dance Outreach is bringing that vision
to support students at Carl Wilde School 79,
School 19
, Lew
Wallace School 107
, Louis
B. Russell Jr. School 48
, IPS/Butler
University Lab School 60
and Center
For Inquiry School 2
Through a 10-week in-school program, third- and
fourth-grade students receive dance lessons from a trained instructor with live
music to accompanying them. Dancers who have expressed significant interest and
are consistently engaged and motivated are invited to participate in an after-school extension program, which occurs
several times each week.


Kids Dance Outreach is a
dedicated supporter of the Any Given Child Indy
initiative, which aims to increase equity in arts experiences for all IPS K-8