When the Indianapolis Public Schools Board of School Commissioners convened for its Agenda Review Session on Tuesday, Jan. 23, and its Action Board Session on Thursday, Jan. 25, topics included the quarterly budget update, an Innovation Restart partner recommendation and a proposal for an existing school to undergo an Innovation Conversion.

What follows is a deeper look at those agenda items, plus a few others.

Quarterly Finance Update

IPS continues to maintain financial and operational transparency, provide timely financial updates to stakeholders and communicate progress on new initiatives.

Chief Financial Manager Weston Young presented a finance update for the second quarter of the 2017-18 school year budget, including the status of district funds, financial management projects and priorities, and other initiatives that are currently in progress.

2017-18 Budget Planning Highlights

  • The district has finalized fall adjustments from enrollment and demographics numbers to solidify per-pupil funding for each school.
  • Information will be collected to gain understanding of school administrators’ staffing and systems needs required to support long-term implementation.
  • The focus will continue on grade configuration at the elementary and middle school levels, evaluating district facilities according to the Facilities Utilization Plan, system upgrades, transportation efficiencies and employee compensation and benefits.

2018-19 Budget Planning

  • The district will finalize Student Based Allocations (SBAs) to school and Central Services budgets so financial priorities and obligations can be met.
  • School administrators will get the support needed to implement their SBA school design decisions.
  • Ongoing efforts will continue to fund All-Choice High School planning, including staffing, renovations and stakeholder alignments.
  • New agreements will be created for employee compensation and benefits along with district partnerships.

The countdown to finalize and approve next year’s budget is underway.

  • District administration and staff will work through the spring to finalize departmental budgets.
  • A public hearing on the proposed appropriation requests and related budgets is set for March 5.
  • The Board is scheduled to adopt the appropriation requests and related budgets on March 15 at the monthly Action Session.

Long-term Goals

  • The district will continue to advocate for increased revenue from federal, state, local and charitable funding as we develop more community partnerships.
  • There will be a continued focus on recruiting and retaining teachers, providing adequate resources to students and staff, and investing in safety and security for all campuses.
  • IPS will continue to work to develop sustainable funding strategies to finance priorities.

ACTION: For Information Only

Innovation Restart Partner Recommendation for Wendell Phillips School 63

Innovation Officer Aleesia Johnson shared details regarding the recommended Innovation Restart partner for Wendell Phillips School 63.

  • Timeline of Events
  • In August 2017, IPS issued a Call for Quality Applicants who would be interested in partnering with a new Innovation school in the 2018-19 school year.
  • Letters of Intent were due in September and the district started the screening process in October.
  • In November 2017, Wendell Phillips School 63 was recommended for Innovation Restart after receiving a fifth consecutive “F” grade from the Indiana Department of Education.
  • Applicants specifically interested in working with Restart schools were asked to submit a full application in November.
  • In December, Matchbook Learning, a prospective partner for Wendell Phillips, met with district teams, teachers, staff and families at the school and the general community.
  • This month, representatives from Matchbook Learning presented additional information on the organization and the proposed academic model for Wendell Phillips School 63.
  • IPS received a total of 13 Letters of Intent from interested Innovation School partners. Of those, four expressed an interest in working with a Restart school.
  • IPS continues to be innovative when re-starting schools — accepting that there is no one-size-fits-all model for every school. The district is constantly growing its own models. In some cases, there are community organizations that partner with a school that’s seeing a downward trend in academics, and choose to do a restart. That was the case for Thomas Gregg Neighborhood School last year. There are other groups with national experience, like Matchbook Learning, that can also be good candidates for an Innovation Restart.

This item was not up for a Board vote this month.

ACTION: For Information Only

Innovation School Proposal for Thrival Academy: Indy

Innovation Officer Aleesia Johnson presented a proposal to convert the IPS Thrival Academy pilot program to Innovation School status.

  • Thrival Academies offers a study-abroad experience for high school students. 
  • The pilot program is providing 20 IPS 11th-grade students the opportunity to study abroad in Thailand for three months during the 2017-18 school year.
  • Representatives from Thrival Academies provided an update on the student experience during the pilot program.
  • The administration provided a recommendation to the Board to pursue an Innovation agreement to expand the pilot program into an Innovation Partnership. 

This item was not up for a Board vote this month.

To follow the adventures of our Thrival Indy students who are currently studying abroad in Thailand, check out their blog posts here: Thrival Academy: Indy Blog

ACTION: For Information Only

Human Resources Policy Revisions

Human Resources Officer Mindy Schlegel presented selected policies and administrative guidelines for review and approval.

  • The Administration is engaged in a systematic review of Board policy and administrative guidelines to ensure alignment with the Board’s Core Commitments and Beliefs.
  • Several policies were refreshed, updated, consolidated and revised, including the following:
  • Tobacco, Drugs and Alcohol
  • Staff Ethics and Professionalism
  • Criminal Background Checks

ACTION: Tabled Until February

IPS/Cummins Vehicle Maintenance Pilot

Transportation Director Manny Mendez presented a proposal for a six-month pilot project with Cummins to provide complete maintenance services to 20 diesel engine buses in the IPS fleet.

  • Cummins would provide a technology-driven solution to IPS for fleet maintenance and operations and furnish the capabilities necessary to perform this service and maintenance program for school buses for six months.
  • Cummins will install telematics on the 20 buses in the pilot.
  • The data generated will mean faster response times for repairs and parts.
  • Maintenance and service for six months will not exceed $12,500 per bus.

ACTION: Passed 6-0

SBA Formula and Policy Recommendations for SY 2018-19

Chief Financial Manager Weston Young presented recommendations for the SY 2018-19 SBA formula and policy.

SBA enables school leadership to be more strategic with resources through:

  • Equity – The District distributes resources based on student need.
  • Transparency – IPS uses clear and easily understood rules for where, how and why dollars flow.
  • Flexibility – We can empower principals to make smart decisions based on unique student needs.

School Allotments Based on:

  • Student Weights – Dollars are aligned to the biggest student needs.
  • Hold Harmless Provisions – This limits loss and/or gains a school could absorb in a single year.
  • Baseline Services – The District ensures that small/underutilized schools are supported with intention.
  • Superintendent’s Strategic Support Funds – The fund addresses school needs not captured by the SBA formula.

 The following are included as part of the school’s total budget allocated through the SBA formula:

  • Teachers
  • Teaching Assistants
  • Social Workers
  • Assistant Principals
  • Media Assistant
  • Non-Staffing Discretionary Funds
  • The following are included as part of the school’s total budget allocated outside the SBA formula:
  • Special Education
  • English as a Second Language
  • Custodians
  • Title Funds
  • Pre-K

The SBA recommendations for the new school year were presented to the Board for approval at Thursday’s Action Session.

ACTION: Passed 6-0