March 3, 2017

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Indianapolis Public Schools
(IPS) Board of School Commissioners reviewed several initiatives during February’s Action
Session, including the consolidation of schools, new Innovation school
proposals, and the purchase of an Agro Box from Rubicon Agriculture.
Commissioners also unanimously approved a resolution highlighting the
district’s commitment to providing quality education to immigrant students,
regardless of their legal status. District ESL Coordinator Jessica Feeser shared the many
proactive initiatives IPS has implemented to educate our immigrant
students and families on their rights.


Facilities Task Force Proposes School

IPS Operations Officer David
Rosenberg briefed Commissioners on the work being done by the IPS Facilities
Task Force on potential school consolidations. Rosenberg reported that over
the past four decades, both policy changes and historical events have contributed
to the decrease in the average number of high school students attending IPS by
nearly 20,000. The total current number of IPS high school students could fit
into three of the district’s seven high school buildings. The district is
looking into consolidating schools as a cost-savings measure. According to
Rosenberg, the operational costs associated
with running seven high schools prevents the maximization of resources and limits
our ability to enhance academic benefits to students.

  • What’s
    By May, the Board will hear the Task
    Force’s recommendation on how the school facilities (particularly the seven
    high schools) would be best utilized to ensure they are facilitating student
    achievement in the most strategic manner. Board action is expected in September
  • Online:


Per-Pupil Funding and
School-Based Allocations

Chief Financial Manager Weston Young
presented an update on the proposed SY 2017-2018
budget for consideration. While enrollment has been comparable over the last
six years, the district has seen sharp declines in per-pupil funding,
disproving the idea that the funding drop is a direct result
of enrollment. Since SY
2013-2014, IPS has reduced central office overhead through reorganization and
automation; broken a five-year freeze on teacher pay raises; and generated
revenue through the sale and lease of underutilized property. IPS continues to proactively address funding
challenges without diminishing classroom instruction, however, these are not long-term
solutions. Additional funding is needed to ensure all students have access to a
high-quality education.

  • What’s
    March, the administration seeks Board approval of the proposed appropriation of
    state funding. Student-Based Budget Allocations are apportioned to schools
    through state funding.

Budgeting Policy:
also presented a proposed policy to govern the implementation of Student-Based Budget Allocations
(SBA) within IPS, which begins during SY 2017-2018.
SBA supports equity, transparency and strategic use of resources, and allows school leaders greater flexibility
in decision-making regarding their own school budgets based on the needs of
their students. The policy will allow the district to implement an operational
budget formula that will increase equity among schools.


Schools Updates

Innovation Officer Aleesia Johnson facilitated
updates on pending innovation school opportunities.


D. Gregg School 15 Principal Ross Pippin
presented a proposal to transition Thomas D. Gregg to innovation
status. The community surrounding the school has been collaborating for the
past year, working in support of the school’s transition. Pippin indicated that
planned benefits of converting to an innovation school include student-driven
learning paths; structured pathways, allowing students to learn at their own
pace; and project-based and experiential, authentic learning.


School of the Arts Principal Nathan Tuttle
presented an innovation agreement for the school’s
conversion to innovation status. This conversion will allow the school the
maximum level of instructional and operational flexibility.

Avondale Meadows Academy: Commissioners reviewed
a term sheet outlining a proposed innovation collaboration between IPS and Avondale
Meadows Academy.



Purchases Agro Box to Enhance Career Technical Education

Ben Carter, director of Career & Technical
Education at IPS, led the conversation on the purchase of an Agro Box from
Rubicon Agriculture. The Agro Box, a farm-to-school initiative between the IPS
Food Services Team and the IPS Career & Technical Education Department, will
be used to provide innovative hydroponic education for our students. The Agro
Box is a shipping container with an integrated control system that automates
environmental growing conditions, while collecting actionable best practice
data. Students will utilize a programmable logic control system to monitor and
adjust PH Levels, CO2 and effective light absorption. 



Board of School Commissioners meetings:

  • Work
    Session – Monday, March 6, 6 p.m., at Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High
    School, 1140 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St.
  • Agenda
    Review Session – Tuesday, March 14, 6 p.m., at the John Morton-Finney Education
    Center, 120 E. Walnut St.
  • Action
    Session – Thursday, March 16, 6 p.m., at the John Morton-Finney Education
    Center, 120 E. Walnut St.