In an educational experience that went beyond the classroom, students enrolled in the Banking and Investment pathway at George Washington High School delved into the intricacies of school funding during a student engagement program on Wednesday, Sept. 13.
The focus was on Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) ambitious Rebuilding Stronger initiative, aimed at upgrading and modernizing its facilities to provide a better learning environment for students.
Guided by a team of IPS financial advisers, including Ice Miller Legal Counsel, Blaylock Van, Loop Capital, Stifel, Baker Tilly, and Policy Analytics, these students had a unique opportunity to witness the district in action during an online session as it sold $130 million in bonds to fund this transformative initiative.
“For the students at George Washington High School, this experience was more than just witnessing a financial transaction—it was an educational journey that illuminated the inner workings of school funding,” said Weston Young, the district’s chief financial officer. “They learned about the complexities of municipal bonds, the importance of budgeting, and how responsible financial management can translate into tangible benefits for their education.”
This experience not only provided them with insight into the financial operations of a school district but also highlighted the crucial role of fiscal responsibility in advancing educational goals, he said.
During the session, students learned about capital referendums, how the bond markets work, and various legal issues.
The sale of these bonds took less than an hour to reach its goal, displaying the trust investors have in the district’s commitment to education.
The Rebuilding Stronger initiative represents IPS’s commitment to providing its students with state-of-the-art facilities conducive to learning and growth. Upgrading infrastructure, enhancing technology, and ensuring safe and welcoming environments are all part of this initiative’s objectives.
Through this bond sale, the district secured the necessary financial resources to turn these goals into reality, Young noted.
Students also got an up-close look at how finance professionals work as the advisors discussed career pathways, including college options and networking.
“Many of the students watching the bond sale are 8-20 months away from graduation from high school,” Young said. “Students in the business and finance pathway are evaluating their options after high school. Now is the time for students to consider the next steps they should take in pursuing their career interests since college application deadlines are approaching as well as deadlines to apply for internships.”
Brock Bowsher, Principal at Baker Tilly, said that educating students about bonds holds significant importance for several reasons.
“First and foremost, it can foster civic engagement by helping students better understand how the community raises funds for vital academic projects. Moreover, introducing students to bonds serves as a practical illustration of essential economic principles, such as supply and demand, interest rates, and the profound impact of public schools on the local economy. This exposure to public finance not only enhances financial literacy but also offers valuable insights into government fiscal management and taxation, helping students build a solid foundation for their future educational and career paths.”
Luke Bruggeman, a director with Stifel, said the session allowed the district’s partners to showcase various career options to the students.
“Municipal finance is not a well-known career path, but it can be very rewarding,” he said. “If someone has an interest in finance, law, or construction, and can pair that with an interest in making a difference in communities throughout the state, then there are a lot of opportunities to pursue in this field. Also, I feel that it’s important for students to understand the process and all the work that goes into these projects for the school district.”
Beyond the financial aspect, this initiative also highlighted the transparent and inclusive approach of IPS. By involving students in the process, the district showcased its commitment to transparency, engagement, and preparing the next generation for the realities of managing public resources, he said.
“This hands-on experience undoubtedly left a lasting impression on these young minds,” Young said. “It emphasized the connection between financial stewardship and the educational opportunities available to them. It also illustrated that their school district is actively investing in their future.”