When the Indianapolis Public Schools Board of School Commissioners convened for its Agenda Review Session Tuesday, June 25 and Board Action Session Thursday, June 27, topics included updates on the Indy Chamber partnership, the climate and culture survey, an overview of the 2019-20 strategic plan and more.

What follows is a deeper look at some of those agenda items.

Indy Chamber Partnership Quarterly Progress Update

IPS Chief of Transformation Officer, Dennis Tackitt, presented the Indy Chamber quarterly progress report and efficiency update.

What Audiences Need to Know:

IPS commits to eliminate its originally projected operating deficit over the next eight years in order to dedicate the entirety of the operating referendum to enhanced academic standards.

Key Messages:

  • Employee Raises 
  • In August 2018, IPS paid teachers an average raise of 5 percent for an estimated annual cost of $5 million.
  • In August 2019, IPS will pay principals and assistant principals an average 13 percent raise for an estimated annual cost of $1.6 million.
  • Total money received to date from the operating referendum totals $15 million.
  • Highlights of some major projects underway to generate significant budget savings include:
  • Food Services

The goal is to repurpose $17 million in federal funds.

  • IPS submitted a waiver to the IDOE to repurpose $8.8 million in the Food Service Fund balance.
  • Facilities

The goal is to save $97.2 million over eight years, starting with the first two phases in 2021-22 and 2022-23.

  • The district is conducting a detailed review of the John Morton-Finney building in preparation for property disposition.
  • August 2019: IPS will develop an RFP for a facility master plan.
  • Transportation

The goal is to save $111.2 million over eight years, starting with the 2019-20 school year.

  • May 2018: Transitioned from three to two tiers and created a field trip transportation budget.
  • February 2019: Started joint planning with IndyGo to move high school students to a universal pass for the 2019-20 school year.
  • June 2019: Contracted with professional routing assistance.
  • August 2019: IndyGo usage pilot starts at four high schools.
  • Fourth Quarter 2019: RFP for transportation services released.
  • Teacher Staffing

The goal is to save $42 million over eight years through attrition management (no layoffs) and reduced annual attrition costs.

  • Five percent raises to improve teacher retention.
  • Health Care

The goal is to save $30.1 million over eight years.

  • Fourth Quarter 2018: Achieved significant savings in insurance costs.
  • Second Quarter 2019: Expecting at least $1.6 million in premium refunds.
  • January 2020: Move to self-insurance saving $750-$1 million in potential additional annual savings.
  • Expand the use of employee health savings plans.
  • Continue expanding employee wellness efforts.
  • Summary of Progress to Date
  • Initial, tentative estimates show IPS is ahead of target for 2019 and 2020 by about $11 million.
  • Based on current modeling, if there are no future operational changes, education and operation fund balances are projected to be gone by 2025.
  • Significant operational changes – including the major transportation and facilities savings outlined in the 2018 assessment.


Climate & Culture Survey Overview

Performance and Continuous Support Improvement Officer, Andrew Strope, presented an overview of the Climate & Culture Survey, which was conducted districtwide.

What Audiences Need to Know:

IPS understands that a positive school climate promotes student academic achievement, healthy development and teacher retention. Schools can use climate and culture data to promote meaningful student, staff and family engagement and enhance many factors that contribute to success in schools.

Key Messages:

  • IPS partnered with Panorama Education to conduct a suite of research-backed surveys focused on collecting reliable feedback from students, families, teachers and staff about school climate and culture, engagement, communication and more.
  • This was the first year for Panorama implementation.
  • Surveys were conducted from Feb. 25 – March 15. 
  • The surveys will allow school and district stakeholders to analyze data, identify actionable responses and communicate the results to IPS families and community members. 

Survey Results

  • 18,000+ students, staff and families participated.
  • Questions were answered on five to seven topics.
  • 64 schools participated in the survey.
  • Students (Grades 3-5) – 5,552 responses
    • School Teacher – Student Relationships = 72 percent Favorable
    • School Climate = 56 percent Favorable
  • Students (Grades 6-12) – 7,569 responses
    • School Rigorous Expectations = 57 percent Favorable
    • School Engagement = 27 percent Favorable
  • Classified Staff – 964 responses
    • Staff – Leadership Relationships = 72 percent Favorable
    • School Climate = 54 percent Favorable
  • Certified Staff – 1,602 responses
    • Educating all students = 81 percent Favorable
    • School Climate = 50 percent Favorable
  • IPS Families – 1,672 responses
    • Barriers to Engagement = 83 percent Favorable
    • Learning Behaviors = 55 percent Favorable

The Process

  • Collect stakeholder feedback via surveys.
  • Analyze and interpret data.
  • Use survey results to set targets for school improvement.


Organizational Plan for the 2019-20 School Year

Superintendent Aleesia Johnson presented an overview of the 2019-20 strategic plan.

What Audiences Need to Know:

In April 2019, IPS launched a planning process intended to create several deliverables to include an analysis of data to summarize strengths and opportunities, create a detailed plan for the 2019-20 school year and prepare the district to implement and progress monitor the work with excellence and rigor.

Key Messages:

  • More than 1,250 responded to an open-ended employee survey. Those results guided the following strategic priorities:
  • Student-Centered Teaching & Learning: Integrate SEL programs and align high-quality instructional, curricular and assessment resources.
  • High-Performing Team: Recruit and retain talent by developing staff and holding them accountable for implementation of IPS’ shared vision of excellence.
  • Racial Equity Mindset: Strengthen and expand racial-equity work to eliminate opportunity gaps and build capacity for team members to persistently interrupt and address institutional bias.
  • School-Centered Central Services: Design Central Services to transparently and effectively meet the needs of schools.
  • Engaged Families, Team and Partners: Engage families, team members and the community in authentic and collaborative partnerships to improve student outcomes.
  • Sustainable Finances and Operations: Strengthen and expand efforts to equitably and efficiently allocate resources across IPS schools.
  • Next Steps
  • Create culminating milestones and measures of success.
  • Monitor progress against measures of success.


Innovation Network School Agreement Amendments

IPS Portfolio Officer Jamie VanDeWalle presented a proposal to modify the Innovation Network School agreements for Global Prep Academy at Riverside 44 and Thrival Academy: Indy.

Key Messages:

  • The Innovation Network School Agreement for Global Prep Academy at Riverside 44 would be modified for the 2019-20 school year to include:
  • Sunsetting the School Management Agreement one year early.
  • The Charter Agreement would cover grades K-6.
  • IPS will no longer provide special education or English learner services.
  • Bring the agreement more in line with contemporary restart agreements.
  • IPS Administration, in full cooperation with the Thrival: Indy board and school leadership, is recommending a one-year suspension of the Innovation School Agreement to plan at Thrival: Indy for a relaunch in the 2020-21 school year. The following topics would be decided by December 2019:
  • Grades served by the school.
  • The best manner to implement the educational program.
  • Location for the study abroad component.
  • Location of the school within IPS facilities.
  • Enrollment metrics to be met before January 2020.
  • Budget and staffing model.
  • Selection of a school leader.