We all know high-quality instruction in a welcoming educational environment is paramount to student achievement, but these opportunities wouldn’t be available without the hard work and dedication of the Indianapolis Public Schools Operations and Finance Divisions. These committed team members work tirelessly to ensure our students and school staff have the necessary supports for a productive, efficient and safe experience each day. Here’s a look at the many areas of Operations we’re advancing this winter:

 
School Budgeting
Allovue, the district’s new resource management planning tool, allows principals the opportunity to see their entire school budgets in real time – this is the first time such an extensive look at finances has ever been available to our school leaders! Principals have the ability to see their information quickly to make strategic decisions and adjustments to support student outcomes.
 
“The reactions have been overwhelmingly positive,” said Marques Whitmire, Director of Special Projects for the IPS Finance Division. “I think principals feel like they have more control because they have more information, and information is power. We’re working in a school district where education is key, and educating our principals on what to do with their newfound budget information is empowering. They haven’t had the opportunity to look at their budgets like this before, so it’s a big change in the right direction.”
 
“Allovue has been a fantastic partner,” said Whitmire, “a real breath of fresh air. While some business transactions can end with a supplier under-delivering, Allovue consistently over-delivers on their promises!”
 
Supplier Diversity
In October, the Board of School Commissioners approved a proposed revision of the district’s Supplier Diversity Policy. The amended policy reflects the inclusion of veteran-owned businesses as a group with which IPS should maximize engagement. In order to maximize the impact of this initiative, our business office is working to ensure we’re identifying new and existing veteran-owned businesses. Our Supplier Diversity Coordinator is leading a process of connecting with our current vendors to verify whether any of them are veteran-owned.  We are also updating all of our vendor registration and bid, quote and proposal response forms to request information about Veteran-Owned Business (VBE) status for new vendors and bidders. 
 
“We are reaching out to the City of Indianapolis and the State of Indiana to share their information about veteran-owned businesses,” said IPS Purchasing Agent Sandra Hubbard. “This will allow us to identify more veteran-owned businesses for outreach, and will also provide a way to review our existing vendor base for VBE’s that have previously been unidentified.  More importantly, we will find out about the certification process for VBE, so we can counsel vendors about this process.”

 
Transportation

 
“I love that I can send my student out to meet the bus instead of having them stand in the cold waiting for the bus!”
 
“I like knowing when my student will arrive home so I can plan dinner time.”
 
“Having the new bus tracking gives me a piece of mind that I know where my student is.”
 
“I like knowing when to leave the house so I am not freezing.”
 
“My parents like knowing when to send me out and knowing where I am.”
 
These are just a few of the accolades coming in for our new transportation tracking service, Here Comes the Bus (HCTB). We are in the pilot phase of this initiative, with families of four schools testing out the program. Tablets installed on our buses allow drivers to track their location to the minute, allowing families to more accurately plan when their student will be picked up and brought back to their bus stop. We look forward to rolling this out to more schools later in the spring semester!
 
Also in transportation, a Request for Proposals will be issued on February 12 for transportation fleet maintenance. IPS is seeking a vendor to potentially contract bus maintenance services in an effort to increase financial efficiency while tightly aligning with industry safety standards. Pending the discovery of a suitable partner, this process improvement strategy is likely to be in place by the start of the 2016-2017 school year.
 
IU Safety Study
IPS is thrilled to have a partnership with the IU Public Policy Institute on a districtwide safety study; members of the IU team spent the last 90 days visiting our schools, interviewing our police officers and researching best practices in school safety to provide an analysis of our district.
 
“It gives an operational and financial picture of the IPS Police Department,” said Operations Officer David Rosenberg. “It highlights what we’re doing well and areas of potential growth to optimize safety in the district.”
 
The study, set to be released in a few weeks, includes information about best practices across the country and opportunities for IPS to align our processes with new models. The IPS Operations Division is always seeking new ways for the district to protect students and employees on a daily basis, and we look forward to reviewing the findings soon.
 
IN My School Partnership

 
Board Commissioners recently approved a partnership with the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) for IPS to participate in the pilot of the new “INmyschool” data application program. INmyschool will allow IPS to pull student and school data from multiple systems into one user-friendly dashboard display. This application will support data-driven decisions for teachers and principals, assist central services in analysis and decision-making and allow students and families instant access to important information including grades, assignments and communications.
 

Without the diligent efforts of our Operations Division, IPS simply wouldn’t exist! We are proud of the dedication our central services professionals demonstrate as they support our district, and we look forward to sharing their continued successes as new areas to optimize efficiency are identified.