When the Indianapolis Public Schools Board of School Commissioners convened for its Agenda Review Session on Tuesday, January 29, and Board Action Session on Thursday, January 31, topics included updates on employee raises, the referenda, a quarterly finance update and much more.

What follows is a deeper look at those agenda items.

January Quarterly Finance Update

Chief Financial Manager, Weston Young, presented an update on the second quarter of the 2018-19 school year budget. This included a status on district funds, financial management projects/priorities and current initiatives.

What Audiences Need to Know:

IPS continues to maintain financial and operational transparency, provide timely financial updates to stakeholders and communicate progress on new initiatives while investing in strategic priorities.

  • 2018-19 Highlights
  • Successful Operating and Capital Referenda are allowing for continued strategic support for students in safe and secure learning environments.
  • Beginning in July 2019, there will be a new fund structure for school corporation reporting and budgeting.
  • IPS continues the pursuit of opportunities to sustain cash inflows for both short-term and long-term needs.
  • Despite our best efforts to increase revenues and implement operational efficiencies up this point, IPS continues to operate with a structural deficit. A number of events influence current and future year funding – including decisions related to collective bargaining, global economic sentiment, interest rates, state biennium budget, and ongoing cost-saving initiatives.
    • These factors all impact the financial landscape for the remaining school year and upcoming budget development for the 2019-20 school year as well.
  • The district remains a leader and advocate for optimizing the use and relevancy of mandated federal and state reporting frameworks. IPS has been preparing to comply with the changes noted below over the past three years by strategically investing in staffing, systems, and third-party consulting.
    • Bond markets have influenced the timing and legal necessity to have Indiana districts implement Generally Accepted Accounting Principals or GAAP audited financial statements in order to be legally able to issue bonds. Among other things, the mandate will improve transparency for financial statement users.
    • Beginning with the upcoming fiscal year, all Indiana school districts will consolidate local property tax funds into one fund titled, “Operations Fund,” which will allow unrestricted flexibility in how funds are used to meet operational needs.

Capital Referendum Update

IPS Deputy Superintendent for Operations, Scott Martin, presented an overview of the implementation plan for the approved $52M Capital Referendum.

Key Messages:

  • All schools will receive necessary safety upgrades, updated emergency communication systems, enhanced exterior lighting, technology upgrades and other structural additions.
  • The referendum also allows the district to tackle deferred maintenance and other projects to improve safety.
  • The district is recommending the use of a CMC (Construction Manager as Constructor) to manage both the capital referendum projects and the final phase of the high school reinvention improvements. 

School Quality Review

IPS Performance and Continuous Improvement Officer, Andrew Strope, reviewed our current School Quality Review (SQR) process, provided an overview of the key takeaways from the recent SQR’s and made a recommendation to the board that we do not restart any of the SQR schools for the 2019-2020 school year.

Intended Purposes of SQR:

  • provide a common understanding of quality and effectiveness across schools
  • foster a dialogue between schools and central services around quality and effectiveness
  • provide school and district leaders with qualitative data collected from teachers, school leaders, parents, students and community members
  • help inform the district’s decisions on interventions and supports, restarts, closures and expansions

Key Messages:

  • It is important to consider multiple measures when assessing school performance and defining what success looks like for IPS.
  • SQR provides contextual and qualitative data to better inform IPS decisions and recommendations.
  • The district proactively engages in determining and implementing interventions and supports for low-performing schools year-round.
  • While the state looks strictly at letter grades when determining which schools to target for SQR, the district considers several factors when reviewing schools, including how a school’s scores have grown.
  • IPS staff and leadership do not recommend any of the 2018-2019 SQR schools be restarted for the 2019-2020 school year

Schools that met IPS criteria to receive an SQR in 2018-19:

  • Stephen Foster School 67
  • Eleanor Skillen School 34
  • Thomas Gregg Neighborhood School
  • Ignite Achievement Academy at Elder Diggs
  • Kindezi Academy at Joyce Kilmer 69
  • James Russell Lowell School 51
  • Louis B. Russell Jr. School 48

AFSCME & IPS Employee Raises

Human Resource Officer, Mindy Schlegel, updated school commissioners on employee raises and gave updates on the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Collective Bargaining Agreement for classified staff.  

Key Messages:

  • For most IPS employee groups, this is the first base salary increase in 10 years.
  • These increases are not coming from referendum funds. Those funds don’t arrive until June 2019.
  • A few employee groups were targeted for raises; the goal is for them to move closer towards market rates so the District can staff critical areas.

AFSCME Contract

All eligible staff members in this group will receive a 3 percent raise, except:

  • Food Center drivers will receive a 4 percent raise.
  • Food Center workers will receive a 22 percent raise.

A one-time $500 bonus will also be given to employees in the 3 percent raise category who have worked for IPS for 10 years or more.

All Non-Bargained Groups

Eligible staff members in this group will receive a 3 percent raise, except:

  • IPS Police will receive a 10 percent raise.
  • Elementary and Middle School Food Service satellite managers and assistants will receive an 11.5 percent raise.
  • High School Food Service managers and workers will receive a 4 percent raise.

A one-time $500 bonus will also be given to employees in the 3 percent raise category who have worked for IPS for 10 years or more.

*Eligibility is based on no final warning or performance improvement plan.


John Morton-Finney Real Estate Updates

Special Projects Director, Joe Gramelspacher, gave Commissioners an update on the potential sale of the John Morton-Finney Center for Educational Services.

Key Messages:

  • IPS has pursued an aggressive strategy to right-size the district’s real estate portfolio
    • 10 properties have been sold, resulting in one-time revenue of over $19 million
    • 5 properties have been leased for educational uses, generating over $840,000 annually
    • IPS has vacated over 1,000,000 square feet of operational space
  • Former IPS properties are projected to add $400 million to Marion County tax rolls
    • A significant portion of that added value will be captured by TIF or Tax Increment Financing and may not bolster IPS revenue.
  • The John Morton Finney Center for Educational Services received two bids but the recommendation is to reject both because neither provides sufficient value for the relocation of IPS Central Services.
  • We are seeing an increased interest in the property with the start of the first quarter and will ask the Board to consider a re-bid process to accept a new round of bids.
  • While the value of JMFCES is generally based off of what the market will pay, valuations of the property set it at $7.6 (m) million.