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IPS Superintendent Responds to Referendum Sharing Request from Charter School Leaders

For Immediate Release

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis charter school leaders are requesting that Indianapolis Public Schools include independent charter schools in its 2023 referendum request to the community.

IPS Superintendent Dr. Aleesia Johnson offers her response to the request.

Dr. Johnson’s Statement

I want to address some questions we’ve received about whether the district funding referendums proposed for the 2023 ballot will include funding for charter schools not affiliated with IPS. 

At this point, the referendum language will not include funds for charter schools that are not a part of IPS, and I want to be clear about why. 

When I introduced the Rebuilding Stronger plan, I called it “Our Commitment to All Students.” And when I make a commitment, I mean it. Rebuilding Stronger is my promise to the community that if we work together and make tough sacrifices, if we exercise discipline and make hard choices based on our values, we will make excellent offerings and great schools accessible to every student in IPS. I promised to be a responsible fiscal steward, and transparent and accountable every step of the way. That’s why we spent more than a year in public meetings, sharing data, talking through hard questions, reviewing surveys, and more to create the plan. 

These are not promises that I, or the IPS Board of School Commissioners, make lightly. So, when we implement Rebuilding Stronger, we need to live up to all of our commitments. And what concerns me is that the proposal to include charters not affiliated with IPS provides no mechanism for the IPS administration or our publicly elected Board of School Commissioners to oversee those funds — which amounts to spending without accountability. 

We will only go to our taxpayers for funds if we can promise to be accountable for how they’re spent. We won’t ask if we can’t make that promise, as is the case here. 

Here’s what we are doing: In addition to the current over $19M in annual operational support that IPS Innovation Network charter schools receive from the district’s budget, we are including all of our Innovation Network charter schools in our 2023 referendum request. With our community’s approval, all schools in our IPS family will receive the benefit of the referendum to support increased offerings for students and a continued commitment to competitive compensation. This setup is important so that we can impact as many students and staff as possible — while still being able to share publicly where dollars are going through our quarterly finance updates. This is our commitment. This is how we Rebuild Stronger.