The Indianapolis Public Schools Board of School Commissioners convened for its Agenda Review Session on Tuesday, June 26 and its’ Board Action Session on Thursday, June 28. Topics of discussion covered the IndyGo pilot program, IPS Transformation Zones, and a request for commissioners to approve a General Obligation Bond.

What follows is a deeper look at those agenda items.

Approval of General Obligation Bond

During Thursday’s Board Action Session, Chief Financial Manager Weston Young asked board members to consider a request for a General Obligation Bond (GO Bond). The bond was reviewed in June and a request to approve it will be made in July.

Key Messages:

  • A GO Bond is a pledge to utilize tax revenues to repay bondholders and is subject to the Indiana legal limit.
  • A GO Bond is not supported by project or fee revenue.
  • The total amount requested is $34 million dollars.
  • The bond will cover the cost of technology upgrades and other educational and operational initiatives, including high school facility renovations.
  • If approved, a GO Bond will replenish the district’s cash balance in the Capital Projects Fund.

IndyGo Pilot Update

On May 1, 2018, IPS launched a pilot program with IndyGo to provide Shortridge High School students with bus passes to utilize the city’s transit service for school transportation. Recently, the program was also expanded to Arsenal Technical High School. Manny Mendez, Director of Transportation, shared a report with board members that summarizes IndyGo bus pass usage and other important facts about the program to date.

Key Messages:

  • There have been no negative reports to IPS or IndyGo to date.
  • Favorable responses have been received from student surveys.
  • IPS has paid $5,000 for a total of 500 bus passes that have been distributed between Shortridge and Arsenal Tech students.
  • Bus passes have also been issued to staff and parents to test services.
  • IndyGo and IPS administered training and materials to both schools.

Next Steps:

  • Continue monitoring usage and address any concerns in a timely manner.
  • Conduct analysis on expansion of services to additional IPS students.
  • Work with IndyGo on city-wide route expansion and frequency changes.

Code of Conduct Update

This month, Student Services Officer Lisa Brenner presented Commissioners with recommended updates to the district’s Code of Conduct.

Key Messages:

  • The IPS Code of Conduct provides guidance for students, families and staff on ways to promote a positive school climate.
  • It also outlines corrective actions and procedures.
  • The overarching goal is to increase equity by reducing exclusionary practices.


Transformation Zone Update

This month, Commissioners received an update on past performance metrics, changes, and future plans related to the district’s Transformation Zones. The presentation was made by Deputy Superintendent for Academics Aleesia Johnson and Director of Transformation Brynn Kardash.

Key Messages:

  • Transformation Zones allow the district to demonstrate to the State Board of Education and our community that we are exploring and implementing best practices related to school improvement.
  • IPS has partnered with Mass Insight Education to work together and develop each zone.
  • Current Transformation Zone data will be shared and changes for the 2018-19 school year will be identified; as well as the four domains identified for Rapid Turnaround.


2018-19 Transformation zone

Significant Disproportionality

The Indiana Department of Education is required to annually collect and review data from public schools to determine if significant disproportionality, based on race and ethnicity, is occurring with respect to a series of categories.

Findings showed IPS is significantly disproportionate in suspensions of greater than 10 days for African American students eligible for special education services.

Deputy Superintendent for Academics Aleesia Johnson and Special Education Officer Brent Freeman updated Commissioners on the recommended course of action moving forward.

To address this issue IPS plans to:

  • Build awareness and re-train administrators responsible for student discipline and positive interventions.
  • Elevate multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) as a district priority.
    • This includes enhanced integration of positive behavior interventions and restorative practices built on equitable, culturally responsive strategies.
  • Revise the IPS Code of Conduct and Special Education standard operating procedures to emphasize alternatives to suspension and discipline data monitoring cycles.
  • Invest in deepening IPS racial equity initiatives.

Suicide Prevention and Awareness

Last month, IPS Board Administrator Zachary J. Mulholland presented commissioners with a Suicide Prevention and Awareness policy for their approval. Board action will be taken this month.

Additional Information About the Policy:

  • This policy complies with Indiana Code 20-26-5-34.4.
  • It is meant to increase child suicide awareness and prevention.
  • Indianapolis Public Schools recognizes that suicide is one of the leading causes of death for Indiana youth.
  • Consistent with Indiana law, the Superintendent, or his designee, will develop a plan to assist survivors of attempted suicide and help students and District employees cope with suicide or attempted suicide.
  • The Superintendent, or his designee, may also develop administrative guidelines and any other appropriate programs or activities to increase awareness and prevention of child suicide.
  • All District employees shall meet training requirements consistent with Indiana law on suicide prevention and awareness.
  • The Board directs all school personnel to support students who exhibit signs of unusual depression or who threaten/attempt suicide. Any such signs or the report of such signs from another student or staff member will be taken seriously and evaluated with urgency.


Commissioners Approved Internal Shifts for IPS School Administrators

During Thursdays Board Action Session, Commissioners approved appointments of several longtime district educators to serve in new positions. Here’s a brief look at each appointment and the employees selected to fill these roles:

Corye Franklin has been named the new Principal of Arsenal Technical High School. Franklin most recently served as principal of IPS William Penn School 49.

Michelle Brittain-Watts has been named the new Principal of Arlington Middle School. Brittain-Watts most recently served as principal of Northwest High School.

Stacy Coleman has been named the new Principal of Henry W. Longfellow STEM/Medical Middle School 28. Coleman most recently served as principal of William McKinley Elementary School 39.

Phil Shults has been named the new Principal of Northwest Middle School. Shults most recently served as principal of Broad Ripple High School.

School principals will begin their new roles July 2018.