When the Indianapolis Public Schools Board of School Commissioners convenes for its Agenda Review Session on Tuesday, October 23, and its Board Action Session on Thursday, October 25, topics will include a quarterly finance update, a report on Males of Color, and updates to our IPS enrollment logic. Our Top 10 2019 IPS Teacher of the Year finalists will also be recognized by commissioners during Thursday’s Action Session.

What follows is a deeper look at those agenda items.

Quarterly Finance Update

Chief Financial Manager Weston Young will present a finance update for the first quarter of the 2018-19 school year. The update highlights the current status of district funds, financial management projects and priorities, and other initiatives currently in progress. 

In the current federal, state and local education funding climate, revenues are not keeping up with the expenditures currently allocated for staffing and other resources. The district must be even more diligent in seeking additional funding in order to sustain and continue attracting, acquiring and maintaining adequate staff and resources to support students’ needs.

Over the past four years, amidst these fiscal pressures, IPS has exhibited a desire to be a leader, both locally and nationally, by intentionally leveraging its resources to better serve its school communities above and beyond what is required to be compliant.

Key Messages:

  • The district has leveraged minority-owned business partnerships to complete work related to the reinvention of high schools.
  • The district is receiving state tuition support per pupil equal to $7,014 for the 2018-19 school year. This amount is 4.8% less than what was received during the 2010-11 school year when the district received $7,367. At the same time, the district has continuously invested in teacher pay on an annual basis since 2015.
  • The district covered the Federal and State Funding gaps to serve students with special needs during the 2017-18 school year by allocating almost $26 million from its general fund.
  • IPS continues to advocate with legislative and community partners for increased funding for special needs while aligning practices and staffing at appropriate levels to maintain quality and compliant service levels.
  • The district has a current operating structural deficit for the 2018-19 school year. A number of events, which influence current and future year funding, plus decisions related to collective bargaining will provide more clarity on the financial landscape for the remaining school year.
  • The district remains a leader and advocate for improved federal and state reporting frameworks.
  • The budget development process for the 2019-20 school year has begun and will take into consideration various cash flow assumptions related to events such as the success and timing of operating and capital referenda, the funding formula for the next state biennium budget, and the timing of cost-saving initiatives pursued in tandem with third-party providers, decision makers, and other economic indicators.
  • IPS continues to monitor cash balances and adhere to the board’s cash management policy. This governs the minimum balances retained for cash flow needs and bond rating monitoring requirements.

Overall, the district continues to maintain financial and operational transparency, provide timely financial updates to stakeholders and communicate progress on new initiatives while continuing to invest in strategic priorities.

Update on Racial Equity Initiative in IPS

The Director of the Racial Equity Office, Patricia Payne and the IPS Performance and Continuous Improvement Officer, Andrew Strope, will present to Commissioners an overview of the racial equity initiatives and updates on future steps to support the work.

Key Messages:

  • The IPS Racial Equity Initiative launched in 2015 with 19 “Equity Schools” and since then over 1,500 people have been through the workshops – including IPS administrators, teachers, parents and support staff as well as members of the broader Indianapolis community.
  • The vision of our IPS Racial Equity Initiative is:
  • An IPS community where student outcomes cannot be predicted by race or ethnicity.
  • The mission of our IPS Racial Equity Initiative is:
  • To lead a collaboration of community members who will partner with IPS to improve outcomes for all students by eliminating racial disproportionality and disparity.
  • There are racial equity teams at both the district and school levels. They meet monthly and provide direction to support Equity Schools and the recently planned and executed IPS Racial Equity Summit. At the school level, the focus is largely on building an equitable culture by providing continuous learning opportunities.
  • IPS is one of 62 urban school districts that pledged to adopt and implement initiatives related to the success and support of male students of color.
  • The pledge is organized by the Council of Great City Schools (CGCS)
  • Priorities of the CGCS Pledge include, but are not limited to:
  • Addressing chronic absenteeism
  • Reviewing/Revising Suspension and Discipline Policies
  • Expand Advanced Placement (AP) and other gifted/talented programs
  • Prioritize FAFSA completion
  • Discuss issues of Race and Racial Equity
  • IPS maintains several initiatives in alignment with the CGCS Pledge:
  • The district has made updates to our Code of Conduct and established local partnerships that support related initiatives including Restorative Justice Practices
  • FAFSA completion is included in the Superintendent’s goals and tracked yearly
  • An ongoing partnership has been maintained with the Racial Equity Institute and a Racial Equity Initiative was launched within IPS

Enrollment Logic

Patrick Herrel, Director of Enrollment and Options, will present Commissioners with an update on IPS enrollment data.

Key Messages:

  • During the 2017-18 IPS enrollment session, applications significantly increased (32.8%) primarily from lower-income communities. Increases were also observed by race and income in choice programs overall.
  • Racial diversity at all IPS choice programs increased, continuing to more closely mirror the district-wide breakdown by race. However, racial diversity remained flat at our highest-demand choice schools.
  • Several changes will be proposed for the upcoming 2018-19 enrollment season, including:
  • Adjustments to seat allocation during the new two-round lottery
    • For consistency, it is also recommended to continue grandfathering transportation for current students and rising siblings to Butler Lab School 60
  • There are also several proposed parameters for the upcoming, 2018-19 session including the following:
    • Two rounds, the first will run November 1 – January 31, 2019 and the second from February 1 – April 30, 2019. Families participating in round one will be notified by February 22, 2019 and families participating in round two will be notified by May 22, 2019.
    • Families will only receive one offer per child, there will be no waitlist, and we will continue to utilize a unified approach to enrollment that engages IPS Operations, Innovation Schools and Charter Schools. 

Action: Approved 6-0

Pre-K enrollment

Teacher of the Year

At Thursday’s Board Action Session, IPS Commissioners will recognize our Top 10 finalists for 2019 Teacher of the Year. Each teacher will be recognized along with our 2019 Winner, Alexandria Stewart from Center for Inquiry School 70.

On October 30th the district will host a private dinner sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company as the final recognition for their demonstration of excellence in the classroom.

Board Appoints New Team Members

Troy Nolan-Watkins and Heather Varno

Troy Nolan-Watkins has been named the Executive Director of Schoolsor Indianapolis Public Schools. He will work under Deputy Superintendent for Academics Aleesia Johnson, supporting a cohort of schools as a part of the school supervision team. Nolan-Watkins is prepared to provide help and guidanceo K-8 principals in the district.

Nolan-Watkins has been the principal at Sidener Academy for High Ability Students since July 2016. During that time, he expanded the recruitment process to include more under-served populations in the high-ability program. He received his bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Ball State University and earned his master’s degree in education administration from Butler University. He’s worked as a principal for 29 years.

With Nolan-Watkins’ departure at Sidener Academy, Heather Varno is being appointed as Interim School Leaderor the remainder of the 2018-19 school year. Most recently, Varno served as the school guidance counselor and magnet coordinator at Sidener Academy. She completed her administrative degree in December 2017 from Indiana State University. She also completed a master’s in administration earlier this year. Prior to her tenure at Sidener Academy, Varno was a middle school social studies teacher in IPS. 

Sidener will launch a search for a permanent principal in January with the plan to have that person in place to start the 2019-20 school year.