At its February 16, 2016 work session the Indianapolis Public Schools Board of School Commissioners heard from stakeholders in the first of three public hearings regarding updates to  the superintendent’s contract and discussed a range of topics including a proposed diversity council and draft communication protocols for major school changes. The Board also reviewed recommended philosophical and functional imperatives for all IPS campuses.


Board Commissioners assembled at Phalen Leadership Academy at Francis Scott Key as part of its commitment to bring more discussions out into the community – Board work sessions and retreats are held in schools throughout the district.


Proposed Superintendent’s Contract Modifications
Board Commissioners welcomed members of the public who came to share comments regarding the proposed modifications to the superintendent’s contract:

    1. Term:  extended through June 30, 2019, with automatic annual one-year extension so long as the Board evaluates the superintendent as “Effective” or “Highly Effective”.
    2. Annual Base Salary:  $209,880 (6% increase from 2014-15, retroactive to July 1, 2015). There will be no raise in base salary for 2016-17; future salary increases will be tied to the average annual salary increase for teachers negotiated under subsequent collective bargaining agreements.
    3. Retirement Contributions:  annual contribution equal to 15% of base salary to a qualified retirement plan, which shall be supplemental to the received benefits applicable to all twelve-month administrative certified employees.
    4. Performance Compensation:  increase maximum superintendent performance compensation to $35,000 (from $25,000) and authorization for creation of a bonus pool equal to the annual earned and approved superintendent performance compensation for distribution by the superintendent to members of core leadership as appropriate.

      Three attendees shared their views echoing that additional monies should be allocated for instructional supplies.


      Proposed Diversity Council
      In response to a request for more in-depth studies, intentional and ongoing efforts around ensuring equity across the district and greater diversity in magnet programs, the administration recommended the establishment of a district Diversity Council. The proposed council would include local leaders recommended by Board Commissioners and other field experts and be facilitated by the administration. Initial work of the council would be to recommend a district diversity statement. The council would look toward local and national organizations to create a set of important criteria and benchmark the district’s efforts. Staff and supplier diversity, academic program offerings and participation and other critical areas would be included within a district scorecard.


      The Diversity Council would also champion initiatives around more complex issues, such as preventing racial and ethnic isolation and tension in schools. Commissioners discussed the idea of diversity as potentially a broader scope of work than an equity, and equity as a larger conversation than racial equity – highlighting that some of the district’s work around equity is being addressed in collaboration with the Racial Equity Institute and through student-based budgeting efforts.


      “If you believe and value diversity, then you’re going to look for equitable distribution of resources,” said Commissioner Diana Arnold. “The committee should explore disproportionate ethnic enrollment at some of our choice programs and offer some possible solutions.”


      Commissioners will work with the administration to identify potential members of the Diversity Council.


      Proposed Communication Protocols for Major School Changes
      The administration requested that Board members share their thoughts around a proposed communications workflow for addressing major changes to schools (i.e., grade reconfiguration, school closure, academic program changes, etc.). The proposed protocols outline broad steps for sharing concepts with the Board, soliciting input from impacted school communities, sharing information with the community at-large and moving toward a recommendation for Board approval. This process would clarify when the Board and school communities would be engaged around ideas for needed changes. The protocols are being proposed to systematically ensure that critical discussions around data and available opportunities occur as early as possible to better inform community-involved decisions. The administration was charged with bringing back to the Board of School Commissioners a hypothetical example of how a fictitious school requiring a major change would be shepherded through the proposed protocols.


      Proposed Philosophical and Functional Imperatives
      The Board of School Commissioners resumed its prior discussion about establishing what expectations will serve as the foundation from which all of our schools will operate. Philosophical and functional imperatives would serve as “’guard rails’ that set clear baselines and help ensure that all schools – traditional, autonomous and innovation – function under the same district beliefs,” said IPS Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee.


      Under the proposed structure, schools in the district’s first Autonomous Schools pilot would align their school design plans with the philosophical and functional imperatives and Innovation Schools would need to demonstrate elements within four philosophical imperatives:

      1. Global Learning
      2. Commitment to Growth
      3. Preparation for Post-Secondary Success
      4. Community Ownership


      And four functional imperatives:

      1. Non-core Content
        • schools offer non-content core courses 
        • proposal & consultation for non-traditional designs
      2. Core content instructional time
        • ELA (K-6): 300 minutes/week minimum (K-2 120 min/day per state law)
        • Math (K-6): 300 minutes/week minimum
        • proposal & consultation to approve unique plans
      3. Family Engagement
      4. State and Federal Compliance
        • adhere to federal/state statutes & IPS policies
        • deliver instruction aligned with Indiana Academic Standards
        • complete state & district accountability processes


      The administration recommends these imperatives as “broad pillars” symbolizing what is important, rather than focusing on how these ideals are implemented and managed. District Innovation agreements would be monitored to ensure state requirements are being upheld and that instructional models are done with fidelity.


      February 23, 2016 Agenda Review Session
      February is a busy month for the Board of School Commissioners, as the second of three meetings in two weeks to address pivotal items will be held on Tuesday, February 23. The Agenda Review Session will include discussion on Innovation schools, Naviance and other important topics. Continued public comment on the proposed modifications to the superintendent’s contract will be heard at the meeting.


      Innovation Agreements
      Commissioners will review proposed Innovation Network Agreements for two schools, Riverside School 44 and Joyce Kilmer Academy 69. Both schools have been selected as candidates for Innovation Restart status Schools after several years of low performance.  The IPS Innovation Office previously recommended employing the Innovation Restart model as an opportunity to revitalize the school communities of Joyce Kilmer School 69 and Riverside School 44. Commissioners will review the proposed Innovation Network agreements for both schools, with Global Preparatory Academy as the proposed partner for Riverside and Kindezi Academy as the proposed partner for Joyce Kilmer. The agreements outline the services to be provided by the district in support of each school’s organization, as well as the accountability metrics each organization must meet to maintain a high standard for student achievement. Both school communities have participated in intentional community engagement events to share information about the proposals for the coming school year and to gather valuable feedback from a variety of stakeholders. Community meetings and additional opportunities for stakeholders to weigh in will continue into the coming school year. Families, staff members and neighbors are always invited to email questions or concerns to Community feedback will be incorporated as planning continues.


      Innovation Update
      While some of our Innovation Network Schools are operated by partner organizations, the ultimate responsibility for the achievement of students in these schools rests with the IPS Board of School Commissioners. To maintain transparency and keep communications open, leadership teams for IPS Innovation Network Schools must present informative progress updates at public Board sessions twice each year. This month, Charter Schools USA (CSUSA) will share a report on the status of Emma Donnan Elementary School. This school was started as part of an exciting initiative to increase enrollment and eventually return Emma Donnan Middle School to IPS from state takeover. CSUSA and IPS agreed to an Innovation Network partnership for the K-6 onsite feeder school for this unique model, which could serve as a blueprint for other districts seeking to recover schools from state takeover.


      Naviance Update

      Deb Leser, IPS Director of Student Services, will share a presentation updating Commissioners on the implementation of Naviance in our schools. Naviance is a comprehensive college and career readiness platform which supports middle grade and high school students to establish and meet their post-secondary school goals. This initiative directly aligns with the district goal to ensure all graduating students are enrolled in a college or vocational program, enlisted in the military or employed at a livable wage. Students in middle grades use Naviance to create personal and academic goals, identify careers and colleges of interest and complete the 21st Century Scholar application. High school students employ the program to create post-graduation and long-term plans, identify and research at least three colleges of interest and complete their FAFSA and college applications. This software allows parents, students, counselors and school leaders to remain connected as they work together to ensure each student succeeds in reaching their goals.